Saturday, 17 March 2018

New sports pavilion open

A NEW £211,000 sports pavilion in Hambleden was officially opened on Saturday.

A NEW £211,000 sports pavilion in Hambleden was officially opened on Saturday.

Francesca Schwarzenbach, whose husband, Urs, contributed a quarter of the cost of the building, cut a ribbon to declare the building open.

The pavilion replaces the wooden structure that served local football, tennis and cricket clubs at The Dene for 40 years.

The new pavilion houses a main club room, tennis club room, referee room, home and away changing rooms, ladies’ changing room, two toilets and a disabled toilet.

It has double-glazed, softwood windows, underfloor heating and insulated walls to make it energy efficient.

Lyndsey Mann, who chairs the pavilion committee, said: “We have wanted to replace the building for a long time because it was beyond economic repair and it wasn’t usable from a health and safety point of view.

“We have quite a thriving tennis club and our junior programme has increased enormously and we now have 80 children as members. I felt that we needed to create better facilities to support them, especially as we also have thriving football and cricket teams.

“It’s already a vibrant club but we hope our new facility will encourage even more participation.”

She gave special thanks to the Schwarzenbachs for their contribution, which she said gave the committee confidence that they would be able to raise the necessary funds. Hambleden Sports and Social Club contributed a third of the cost and secured a £50,000 grant from Sport England and £33,000 from waste contractor Biffa via the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts.

Hambleden Parish Council also made a contribution and the remainder came from donations.

Paul Webb funded the cost of the new clock and weather vane in memory of his father, who built the original pavilion. Graham Smith, of Dorset Weathervanes, created the sports-inspired weather vane, which includes silhouettes of a cricket player, footballer and tennis player.

David Palmer, a trustee of the sports and social club, donated a trophy for an annual tennis tournament.

Special guests at the opening ceremony included Lady Hambleden, who together with her husband, bequeathed the five-acre sports ground to the village in 1959.

She said: “He was the initiator of this as he was always felt very strongly about the village and he loved tennis, cricket and any other sporting activity. I think the building is charming.”

Mr Schwarzenbach called the building “beautiful” and said he was particularly impressed by the referee room.

His wife added: “It is wonderful to see the various sports that can be played here.”

Project manager Julien Francis said: “This is probably one of a kind in the local sports pavilion world and will hopefully set a new standard for the next generation of sports facilities which can be more than just a set of changing rooms but become a warm and vibrant heart of a healthy local community.”

Pat Eldridge, chair of Hambleden sports and social club, said: “The old pavilion was like a shed. It was 40 years old and it showed.”

Free football, cricket and tennis coaching was available before the official opening and cricket and tennis matches were played in the afternoon.

Food was served for the invited guests and others who attended.

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