Grassroots sports clubs in County Durham have benefitted from financial support through an Area Action Partnership.
Durham County Council’s 3 Towns Area Action Partnership (AAP) has been providing support to three local sports groups in the area to help make improvements to each club and support them through the coronavirus pandemic.
Hunwick Cricket Club, in Crook, received £10,000 from the AAPs Area Budget to help the club construct a new building on its grounds.
The single-storey building will act as a social and welfare hub and will be used primarily for day-to-day gatherings of the cricket team, the running club, the girls’ football team and other local meetings when permitted under current coronavirus rules. It will provide a seated area for people to use with a mini kitchen and heating and utility facilities.
Chris Pratt, of Hunwick Cricket Club, said: “This new building is a great additional asset which further strengthens the cricket club’s facilities. We already cater for several groups in the community who will all benefit from its use. We will be able to allow more people to get involved at the club and enjoy healthy activities, regardless of their age.”
Crook Town AFC applied for funding to purchase new home and away strips for upcoming football seasons that are permitted under coronavirus restrictions. This would replace their current strip which has been used for the last three to four seasons. It is expected that the team will get at least two to three years out of these new strips.
Cllr Anne Reed funded the project, giving the club £1389.90 from her Neighbourhood Budget to purchase the strips for their players.
Vince Kirkup, of Crook AFC, said: “The club are both grateful and delighted to have the help and support of Cllr Anne Reed and the Neighbourhood Budget in being able to sanction and provide a grant for the purchase of the new home and away strips for future seasons, with advice and guidance from Nicola Woodgate and Sandy Denney at the council.
“The last six months have been challenging for all within the local community, with the coronavirus restrictions and protocols bringing local businesses and voluntary organisations like ourselves to a virtual standstill and income streams being curtailed or abandoned as a result.
“Overheads are constant and planning for the new season comes at a cost if the club is to move forward as it endeavours to add to its illustrious 131-year history, serving and providing the town with a focal point and something for the community to be proud of.
“The new and very smart kit replaces the well-worn outfit with strips which will serve and enhance the club’s reputation for being smart on and off the pitch.”
Tow Law Town AFC was also awarded £1,200 from Cllr Richard Manchester’s Neighbourhood Budget to purchase a new home and away strip for the team. Their current strip had been used for three seasons.
Tow Law AFC are also forming a women’s football team to play in future in the Durham FA Women’s League. As a new team, they will not have any playing or training kit and they have received £2,200 from Cllr Richard Manchester to purchase these kits.
Stephen Morallee, of Tow Law Town AFC, said: “Tow Law Town AFC are very grateful to Cllr Richard Manchester and the team at the 3 Towns AAP for the generous grant towards our new football kits. Our previous kits have served us well but were coming to the end of their time. Now we can retake to the field in brand new kit from our supplier, AVEC.
“The last few months have been very hard for small clubs like us and this will greatly assist as we get back onto our feet when coronavirus restrictions ease.”
Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “Local sports clubs and associations are a lifeline within communities, bringing people together to take part in or celebrate their local team while providing the opportunity to socialise, make friends, and build relationships with neighbours and people in the area.
“Although current coronavirus rules prohibits sports clubs and tournaments taking place in the usual manner, the funding that has been given to Crook AFC, Tow Law AFC, and Hunwick Cricket Club will ensure that these important community organisations can stay standing on their feet and keep bringing benefits to the area.”