The latest stage of a £120,000 refurbishment of a County Durham cricket club’s facilities has been completed with the official opening of its new practice nets.
Leadgate Cricket Club has been working on renovations to its clubhouse and improvements around its ground over the last three years to make them as accessible as possible to all users and to improve the playing and practice facilities available to its teams.
Having completed the installation on a new ground drainage system last year, and having made a range of improvements to its clubhouse, the committee’s attention turned to building a permanent practice facility at the side of its Garden Place ground.
Up to now, the players had used an artificial strip in the centre of the ground for net sessions, but this could not be used during matches and didn’t allow for different players to undertake different technical training sessions at the same time.
The new two lane practice net has now been officially opened by local councillors Alan Shield and Watts Stelling, alongside Durham CCC players Stuart Poynter and Josh Coughlin.
And the club committee believes it will have a significant impact on the skills development and technical improvements that their players will be able to make.
Originally founded in 1904, Leadgate Cricket Club now runs two senior men’s teams, a ladies’ XI and a number of junior sides across five age groups, ranging from under nines to under 18s.
Alongside the money that club members have raised themselves from different fundraising activities, Leadgate CC has received funding from a number of external sources for its upgrade work, including a £5,000 grant towards the practice nets from County Durham-headquartered mining, property and renewable energy firm The Banks Group.
Banks Mining is the developer of the nearby Bradley surface mine, which will also make around £50,000 available to local groups and good causes for capital projects over the next two years through its Bradley Community Fund, which is administered by County Durham Community Foundation.
Leadgate Cricket Club committee member Peter Dobson says: “We’ve long wanted to have dedicated net facilities away from the main square, so that they could be usable all the time, and it’s going to make a real difference to how we practice and prepare for matches.
“Having two lanes means we can work on different aspects of the games with different players at the same time, rather than having to do everything together, and this will allow our coaches to get through much more work in the same timeframe.
“We’re confident that we’ll see a real impact from these new facilities on the pitch through the coming season and beyond.
“The community support we’ve had for our renovation work has been fantastic, and the financial backing we’ve had from the Banks Group and other organisations has enabled us to put our plans into action far more quickly than would otherwise have been possible.”
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “Players, officials, families and friends of Leadgate Cricket Club have put in a massive amount of work to make the huge changes at the ground that have happened in the last couple of years, and we’re very pleased to be supporting this excellent community sports club.
“All of Banks Community funds are designed to deliver tangible benefits to the surrounding area, and we’re keen to get ideas on how it might best be used from as many different local groups as we can in the area around our Bradley site.”
Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for grant funding from the Bradley Community Fund should contact James Eaglesham, donor services manager at the County Durham Community Foundation on 0191 378 6342 or visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/development-with-care/bankscommunityfund