Lotto boost to Suffolk sports facilities

THERE was no hiding the delight last night as residents in a north Suffolk village celebrated a £93,000 lottery grant that will give a massive boost to community sports facilities.

By David Lennard

THERE was no hiding the delight last night as residents in a north Suffolk village celebrated a £93,000 lottery grant that will give a massive boost to community sports facilities.

Wenhaston, near Halesworth, has a long tradition of sporting excellence in the Suffolk area with a long-established amateur football team, as well as a bowls club and other sports teams.

It is hoped the new facilities will help the next generation of sports stars from the village.

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Wenhaston has been awarded £93,832 towards a floodlit multi-use games area by Sport England, which represents the English Sports Council – a distributor of Lottery funds to sport.

Delighted Barney Dickson, project co-ordinator for Wenhaston Sports Club, said it would be a big boost to the area.

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"Doubtless people from nearby villages will also use the games area," he said.

The money is going to Wenhaston Parish Council on behalf of Wenhaston Sports Club to help meet the cost of the £144,357 scheme.

The new games area will provide two all-weather courts with surrounding fencing. One court will be for tennis only while the other will be marked out for tennis, basketball and five-a-side football.

A dedicated skateboarding area will be built next to the games area.

The new games area will be at the village playing field where existing facilities include a sports pavilion, football pitch and a play area for children.

Local schools are expected to make full use of the multi-use games area too with work on the new complex expected to start later this summer.

Ann Edwards, chair of Wenhaston Sports Club, said a village survey had revealed a strong demand for tennis, basketball and skateboarding.

She added: "The facility will be managed by the sports club with free membership for the under 18s to encourage their participation."

Mrs Edwards also said Wenhaston Sports Club was seeking affiliation to the Suffolk Lawn Tennis Association.

As well as the Sport England Lottery Fund award, support for the scheme also includes grants of £12,000 from the Foundation for Sports and the Arts, £6,000 from Suffolk Coastal District Council, £5,000 from the Suffolk Environmental Trust and £6,832 from the Local Network Fund.

Wenhaston Parish Council and Suffolk County Council have also contributed together with individual donations and money from the sport club's own coffers.

While there was joy in Wenhaston with confirmation that the residents' dream of better sports facilities is about to become a reality, there is still a nervous wait just a few miles away.

A multi-use games area for community use has long been planned in the grounds of Halesworth Middle School.

"We have been promised grants from a number of different organisations but these are dependant on us getting Lottery funding from Sport England," said Alan Holzer, a member of Halesworth Town Council, who is one of the organisers behind the bid for better sports provision in the town.

"We have been promised a decision shortly but at the moment we are still waiting," he said.

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