Monday, September 25, 2023

Harriers get a new Clubhouse

A fantastic new clubhouse was opened today by Andrew Mackinlay MP Paul Levett and officials from the club

Thurrock Harriers are the leading athletics club in the area, offering training weekday evenings and Sunday mornings, with specialist training groups for young people and for different disciplines.

In recent years the standard of the facilities at the club has been transformed: a new fence provided essential security before other works could progress; this has been followed by the resurfacing of the track, the refurbishment of the changing rooms and toilets, and now the building of a complete new clubhouse, replacing a dilapidated old building which had become too dangerous to use. The new clubhouse includes a kitchen, offices for the track secretary and for physiotherapy, and a large club area that can be used for weights training and for club meetings. A new patio has been laid in front of the clubhouse to complete the changes.

The Veolia ES Cleanaway Mardyke Trust has been the principal funder of the new clubhouse, providing £120,000 to the project. Last year the Trust received over £1million from Veolia Environmental Services through the Landfill Communities Fund; nearly all of that money has already been committed to a whole range of projects, all within Thurrock, and mostly very close to the landfill site in South Ockendon which is the source of the funds. The Trust was launched in April 1998, since when it has helped around 200 projects within Thurrock, spending (or committing to spending) over £4million, with projects ranging from measures to protect and improve wildlife habitats, to sports facilities, children’s play areas, youth facilities, church restoration, community centres, park improvements, and so on. The Trust is managed by a board of six voluntary trustees, four of whom live in South Ockendon; trustees are extremely grateful for the continuing and very generous support they receive from Veolia Environmental Services.

Apart from the £120,000 from the Veolia ES Cleanaway Mardyke Trust, the Thurrock Harriers also received significant funding for the clubhouse from the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, and from the Thurrock Youth Cabinet. In addition, Thurrock Council has acted as a guarantor for the project in the unlikely event of the Thurrock Harriers closing, a guarantee that was essential for the Trust to be able to release its’ funding. A local firm, Dealbuild Ltd., of Orsett, has built the new clubhouse, an example of how effective the Trust’s funding has been in helping to sustain local employment while improving community facilities. However, none of this would have been possible without the hard work and commitment of the volunteers who keep the club running (and jumping and throwing….)

The continuing support of the Veolia Cleanaway Mardyke Trust to sports clubs in Thurrock is especially important in times of economic recession. A national study has estimated that 6,000 sports clubs across the country could be forced to close as a result of the recession. While the Trust cannot subsidise membership costs for local clubs, it has stepped in to help many local clubs with important grants to improve their facilities, so that club members can concentrate on enjoying their sport instead of worrying about finances.

In recent years, the Belhus Cricket Club, Orsett Cricket Club, Thames Rugby Football Club, Thurrock Football Club, Brandon Groves Football Club, Wilburn Wanderers (girls) Football Club, Thurrock Swimming Club, Thurrock Lawn Tennis Club, Stifford Boxing Club and Aveley, South Ockendon and Orsett Bowls Clubs have all, like the Thurrock Harriers, received grants from the Trust, several of them receiving more than one grant which has enabled clubs to gradually improve their facilities at a rate their volunteer members can cope with. The Trust has also helped street football schemes and helped to provide skate parks, ball courts at Aveley Recreation Ground, Brannets Wood, Dilkes Park, and Quince Tree Close, and new tennis courts at South Ockendon Recreation Ground, so that young people have opportunities to play sport informally as well.
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