Players at a successful Darlington community cricket club are getting a clearer view of the game thanks to a four-figure grant from a regional employer.
Haughton Cricket Club has been undertaking a long-term ground improvement project aimed at upgrading the facilities it can offer players and visitors.
After winning funding from the England & Wales Cricket Board for new pitch covers, the club’s management committee had turned its attention towards how it could afford to purchase a new set of sightscreens, which are placed behind the bowler’s arm at either end of the ground to help batsmen see the ball more easily as it’s delivered.
And after approaching the County Durham-headquartered Banks Group for support, a £2,728 grant has been provided to pay for the sightscreens, which are now in place.
The funding is one of the first grants to be ‘given out’ from the community benefits fund linked to Banks Renewables’ Moor House wind farm, which sits adjacent to the Haughton ground.
The fund, which went live when the six-turbine wind farm began generating clean green electricity at the beginning of the year, will provide more than £750,000 of community funding over 25 years, and Banks Renewables is now actively looking for more applications to it from local groups and good causes
Founded in 1876, Haughton Cricket Club is believed to be the oldest active club in the area and its two teams are currently top of the Darlington & District League’s A and B divisions.
It has around 30 playing members aged between 13 and 50 years old who are drawn from the surrounding area, and has won the league title twice in recent years, as well as a number of cup competitions.
Brian Dobinson, vice president at Haughton Cricket Club, says: “There are always a lot of expenses to meet at any amateur sports club, and we spend a great deal of time raising the money to meet our running costs so that we can keep match fees affordable for all our players.
“We have the open fields which contain the wind farm behind the bowler’s arm at one end of the ground and a red brick building at the opposite end, and it’s not always easy for our batsmen to pick up the ball coming towards them from these backgrounds.
“The sightscreens look fantastic, and having them in place will enable us to practice and play in a safer environment, as well as hopefully helping our teams push on towards finishing the season as well as we can.
“It probably would have taken us years to raise the money for the sightscreens without the Banks Group’s help and we’re very grateful for their assistance.”
Eligibility for the Moor House Wind Farm Community Fund is normally restricted to projects and activities within the closest communities at Sadberge, Bishopton, East & West Newbiggin, Bishopton, Little Stainton, Great Stainton, Great Burdon, Barmpton, Brafferton, and areas of Whinfield, Harrogate Hill, Beaumont Hill and Coatham Mundeville which are north of the A1150 and east of the A167.
Projects in neighbouring areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within the closest communities.
An annual allowance of £15,000 is being made available from the Moor House community benefits fund in support of local community groups, environmental projects and voluntary organisations, while the same amount again will be available every year to support activities related to employment and training opportunities.
A further one-off allocation of £50,000 has been provided to support energy efficiency and micro-renewables projects for community buildings within the area surrounding the wind farm.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “The money available from the Moor House fund will make a big difference to the facilities and activities that the surrounding communities are able to access, and we’re pleased to be starting to distribute the available funding to local groups and good causes.
“With Haughton Cricket Club being so close to the Moor House wind farm, this is a very natural and suitable project for us to support, and we wish the players all the best for the rest of the season and beyond.”
Community groups, or voluntary organisations in the vicinity of the Moor House 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 to check if their group or project is eligible.