May 14, 2015 | Community News
Relationships across a South Yorkshire village will be strengthened this summer thanks to a community bowling club’s efforts to make their facilities accessible to all.
Swallownest Bowling Club was set up three years ago when a group of local residents approached Aston-cum-Aughton Parish Council with a plan to revive a former bowling green in the village that was in danger of closing through lack of use.
Since their successful first year, the club’s membership has trebled to well over 50, with volunteers devoting their time to ensure the facilities stay in the best possible condition.
Making the venue as accessible as possible had been an early goal for the bowling club, with the access steps to the playing area and uneven pavements making it difficult for many older members and spectators to get there.
But now, thanks to a £3,000 grant from renewable energy firm Banks Renewables from the community benefits fund linked to its nearby Penny Hill Wind Farm, a new access ramp has been created off King Street and other improvements have been made which will enable everyone to reach the green.
The Banks grant covered the major proportion of the costs for doing the work, and with contributions also made by the parish council and the bowling club itself, the grant has ensured the delivery of a successful project.
The bowling club is already working with local charity Mutual Support to get even more older people along to play or spectate, and a series of Saturday evening community matches are being planned for the summer which residents of a local care home will be invited to come along and watch.
Local firms Beighton Block Paving and Avanti Steel Fencing carried out the work, and further improvements to the club’s toilet facilities are also now being planned after the club was awarded a Lottery grant for the work.
Swallownest Bowling Club treasurer Keith Nowak says: “We’ve been very successful in attracting new members over the last three years, but given the age profile of many of those that play, including our oldest member who is 86, accessibility has always been an issue for us.
“The new access ramp makes it far easier for everyone to get down to the green, and whilst it will benefit our members and visiting teams, we want to make sure that as many other local people who wish to pay-on-the-day, or come and spectate can benefit from it too.
“The community matches we’ve got planned will be a great place for people of all ages to meet, talk and enjoy themselves, and there are already a lot of ideas being developed for making the most of the opportunities they’ll create.
“The club gets excellent support from the Parish Council, but without this grant, realising our plans simply wouldn’t have been possible, so we’re extremely grateful to Banks for giving us the resources we needed to get this work done.”
The Penny Hill Wind Farm Community Fund will provide over £500,000 of community funding over the 25-year lifespan of the Penny Hill Wind Farm, which sits to the south east of Rotherham and west of the junction of the M1 and M18.
The fund, which is ring-fenced for use within the parishes of Aston, Thurcroft, Treeton, Ulley and Whiston, aims to make a positive, long-term difference to local voluntary groups, environmental projects and community facilities in these areas, and around £40,000 has already been distributed to various local groups, including the Ulley Millennium Trust, the Maelstrom Explorer Scouts, Ulley Sailing Club and Treeton Parish Council.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Groups, adds: “The members of Swallownest Bowling Club have created a thriving community organisation in just three short years, and their inclusive approach is clearly benefitting an ever-growing number of local people.
“The Penny Hill Wind Farm Community Fund was specifically designed to support community improvement projects just like this, and we hope players and spectators get lots of long warm summer days in which to enjoy their time at the club.”
Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks’ Penny Hill Wind Farm which are looking for a grant of up to £3,000 should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 for further information.