A flourishing County Durham community cricket club has completed the conversion of one of the rooms in its pavilion to create a new focal point for village activity.
Lintz Cricket Club has redesigned and refurbish its existing two-storey lounge and bar area to create a new single-storey community room at its Lumley Gardens ground in Burnopfield with fully accessible doors, corridors and toilet.
The project stemmed from the increasing numbers of junior members and families who were making use of the club’s facilities, as well as the recent closure of two pubs within half a mile of the ground which had created a growing need for a new place for local people to come together.
As well as using its own resources, the club has received funding for the £30,000 project from Sport England and a £5,000 grant from County Durham-headquartered mining, property and renewable energy firm The Banks Group.
An official opening event for the new room will be held before the start of the 2020 cricket season, but bookings are already beginning to come in from local people for private functions and events.
The club is also aiming to work with local schools and use the new community room as a ‘halfway house’ for vulnerable learners who are not attending school and their parents to use as they work towards returning to mainstream education.
Originally founded in 1906, Lintz Cricket Club competes in the Northumberland and Tyneside District League and runs three senior teams as well as five junior sides from under nines up to under 17s.
It has also had around 60 local children taking part during the recent season in regular Friday night Cricket All Stars sessions, as part of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s national drive to introduce more children aged between five and eight to the game.
Bob Jackson MBE, president at Lintz Cricket Club, says: “Our junior sections are perhaps more popular than they’ve ever been, and having so many young people, parents and families around the club made us think about the facilities we were able to offer them.
“We also already have a number of community groups using our rooms, with more coming in after the pub closures, but it was pretty obvious that the layout wasn’t suitable for all their needs, as well as ours, and that we needed to make improvements.
“We’ve created a multi-functional, accessible all-year round community room that offers lots of floor space that’s suitable for different activities and we’re really pleased with how everything is now set up.
“Having made a big investment in upgrading our changing rooms last year, this whole idea would have remained a pipe dream without the backing we’ve had from Sport England and the Banks Group.
“Bookings are already beginning to come in as local people find out about what we can now offer, especially for Christmas parties, and we expect this project to have a massive positive impact on our community in the years to come.”
The Banks Group is a longstanding supporter of both professional and amateur cricket around its home region, sponsoring Durham Cricket’s Royal London One Day Cup team, Durham Cricket’s youth development squads, seven cup competitions run across the region by the North East Premier League and Northumberland County Cricket Club.
The family-owned firm is also the developer of a number of residential property and renewable energy projects in the region as well as the nearby Bradley surface mine, which is also making 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.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “Lintz Cricket Club has taken a far-sighted approach to meeting its community’s needs as well as its own and we’re proud to be part of making their plans a reality.
“All our projects are designed to bring a range of benefits to the communities in which they’re based and we have an unmatched track record of delivering facilities improvements right across our home county.”
Anyone interested in applying for funding should first contact the fund manager for The Banks Community Fund at the County Durham Community Foundation via firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.