Facilities at one of the North East’s best-known amateur cricket clubs have received a major upgrade thanks to a five-figure grant from a County Durham business.
The risks posed by the declining state of the pathways leading into and around the ground at Chester-le-Street Cricket Club had been causing the management committee concern for some time, while a high net fence that was designed to protect the neighbouring St Cuthbert’s Primary School from flying cricket balls, and bucket seats that were becoming increasingly unsafe for spectators to use were both seen to be in urgent need of replacement.
The Club didn’t have the money available to carry out all the required work in one go, but after Meadowfield-headquartered property and energy firm The Banks Group stepped in with an £18,652 grant from its Banks Community Fund, the committee was able to put its plans into action.
Jem Road Construction of Burnopfield has now tarmaced all the surfaces around the ground, and has also covered and sealed an open gravel drain at the bottom of the field which was viewed as posing a health and safety risk.
Specialised high net fences have been installed by a team of Club volunteers to protect both the school and the club car park from aerial shots, while innovative bench seating manufactured from recycled plastic bottles by Stanley-based Marmax Recycled Products has also been fitted.
Chester-le-Street Cricket Club runs four senior teams, with its 1st XI winning the North East Premier League in 2016, and it also has around 100 junior players representing a number of different age group sides.
It has been based at its current Ropery Lane ground since 1948, and in 2010, it became the first club to win all three North East Premier League divisions in the same season, a feat that remains unmatched.
Keith Robson, chairman at Chester-le-Street Cricket Club, says: “The uneven, potholed pathways around the ground had been worrying us for some time, and the safety risk they posed to both players and spectators had become a serious concern.
“The netting was in a similarly poor state, and the bucket seats, which was already second-hand when we inherited it, weren’t comfortable enough for spectators to use for any length of time.
“The improvements we’ve made have made the ground a lot safer for players, spectators and neighbours, and a lot better looking as well, and they’ve been very well received by everyone.
“There are always plenty of things to spend money on when you’re running a community sports club like ours. We knew we didn’t have the money in the bank to get everything done at once until The Banks Group came forward, and their generous support will make a big, long-term difference to the facilities we can offer to players and spectators alike.”
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The Cricket Club is one of the mainstays of community life in Chester-le-Street, and we’re very glad to be able to help such a worthwhile organisation in our home county.
“It’s also especially good news for the area that local firms have been able to carry out the required work on its behalf, and their input has made the ground look terrific.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.