September 9, 2013 | Brenkley News
The time taken to look after the pitch at a Northumberland community rugby club has been halved after a four-figure grant from a local employer paid for the purchase of a new ride-on grass cutter.
Blyth Rugby Club has taken delivery of the new mower, complete with roller, aerator and trolley, in time for the new season after receiving a £5,720 grant from the Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund.
And the players who used the pitch for pre-season training have already reported a great improvement in the playing surface.
The new mower was needed as the old one was no longer fit for purpose, meaning that it took the team of volunteers who look after the club’s pitch more and more time to do the job, especially as they had to follow the old mower round the ground picking up the grass cuttings that it left behind.
Blyth Rugby Club, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of its foundation last year, runs three senior teams, with the 1st XV now competing in Northumberland & Durham Division One.
It also has over 150 young players aged between seven and 17 on its books, and places a strong emphasis on youth development, with around 90 per cent of its 1st XV players coming up through its junior teams.
It also has good links to schools in the surrounding community, hosting inter-schools matches at its Plessey Road ground, and shares facilities with the nearby Bede Academy.
Max Proud, chairman of youth rugby at the club, says: “Because we only have the one pitch which gets a great deal of use from both senior and junior teams, it takes a lot of work to keep it in shape, and the age of the equipment that we’ve been using for the last few years was making this a longer and longer job.
“Not only does the new grass cutter pick up the cuttings that the old one left behind, the tools that come with it do a lot of the sanding, seeding and aerating work that we’ve previously had to do by hand, which cuts down on the time we’re spending on pitch maintenance even further.
“The players have been quick to comment on the improved ground conditions, which will hopefully contribute us to our teams playing the best rugby they can in the coming season, and to us being able to host as many games as possible, no matter what the winter throws at us.
“Our focus is very much on bringing local young players through to senior rugby level, both through our own junior teams and the strong links we have with local schools, and the generous support we’ve had from Banks will make a real difference to how this works in the future.”
The Banks Group has worked in south east Northumberland for more than three decades, and has supported a wide range of community projects in and around the local area over many years.
It is currently looking to secure planning permission for additional work at its nearby Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mine sites, at which around 200 people are currently employed and which contribute around £35m every year to the local economy through wages and the supply chain.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, adds: “Aside from their obvious sporting success, organisations like Blyth Rugby Club teach young people a great deal about healthy lifestyles, teamwork and determination, and we hope this donation adds to their continuing success both on and off the pitch.”
Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.