New grant for Fernhurst Pavilion campaign is ‘a massive vote of confidence’

A campaign to replace Fernhurst’s sports pavilion at the village recreation ground has been given a boost thanks to Sports England.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 11:51 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 12:07 pm
The existing pavilion

The country’s leading body for grassroots sport is making a grant of £100,000 to the Pavilion2022 campaign.

It follows a series of smaller awards from charitable trusts.

Bill Gourlay of Fernhurst Recreation Ground Trust said: “This is a massive vote of confidence in what we are trying to do and gets us so much nearer to the target.

An artists' impression of the new pavilion

“The fundraising team have been busy for four years now and the pandemic hasn’t stopped them.

“Our old pavilion has become a victim of our success and Sport England recognised how many people are trying to access it.”

After an online survey conducted in 2017 confirmed overwhelming support for a new pavilion, planning permission was granted for the project in March 2019.

Before the latest announcement, more than £220,000 had already been raised towards the Pavilion2022 target of £700,000.

Mr Gourlay said: “This really vindicates our ‘Sport for All’ strategy.

“As if we needed a carrot, the grant from Sport England is provisional upon our raising the rest of the required funds, so now the incentive really is there to take this opportunity whilst we can.”

While traditional fundraising events remain on hold for now, he said the ambition was to stage the Blackdown Hill Challenge later in the year, when it is safe to do so.

The current pavilion was opened in 1971 and has been patched up to comply with modern regulations on disabled access, food hygiene and child welfare.

But 79 per cent of respondents in the 2017 survey classed the facilities as ‘unacceptable’.

Recent improvements to the recreation ground have included a new, fully drained football pitch, cricket nets with two lanes and three tennis courts.

The ground also hosts stoolball, pilates, dog shows, keep fit, private parties and the village fete, the ‘Revels’, every May.

Mr Gourlay said the pavilion was ‘the last piece in the jigsaw’ when it came to improving the space.

Fernhurst Recreation Ground Trust and the affiliated sports clubs have already raised tens of thousands and are committed to more.

Grants and donations are being sought from charitable trusts, local councils, businesses and individuals – donate at the fundraising page here.

Find out more about the project at pavilion2022.org.uk