Major funding boost for sports in Wheathampstead

B L-R Josh Faulkner 10, cllr Annie Brewster, Parish Council chairman David Johnston, Callum McLean 9

B L-R Josh Faulkner 10, cllr Annie Brewster, Parish Council chairman David Johnston, Callum McLean 9, Kian Alexander 10 F L-R Louisa Ellis, Andy Ellis - Credit: Archant

THE sporting legacy of London 2012 and the Paralympic Games is expected to spread to a St Albans village which has been offered a major funding boost to improve its leisure facilities.

Sport England has awarded Wheathampstead parish council a £50,000 “inspired facilities grant” towards a small third-generation artificial grass community sports pitch in the heart of the village, at the Marford playing fields.

The Football Foundation has advised upon the project and confirmed an expression of interest to match the Sport England funding for the community pitch once full planning approval has been granted.

The scheme involves locating the new all-weather 42m x 24.3m pitch in an area of the playing field which currently accommodates the children’s play equipment, and it will be lit by four small green floodlights similar to the tennis club beside it.

The Marford play project will also incorporate new play equipment for all ages together with a basketball area and outdoor table tennis.

St Albans district councillor for Wheathampstead Annie Brewster said: “We are delighted Sport England has backed our aim to provide a wide range of sports and recreational opportunities for our community.

“Young people have complained there are not enough activities locally and with this vote of confidence from Sport England we are well on our way to providing a facility we can make available to our local schools, sports clubs and community groups.

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“We plan to have periods of open access after school and at weekends and to provide a venue for football training, touch rugby, dodgeball and ultimate frisbee among other initiatives”.

Village resident Anna Patten, 13, who plays for Arsenal Ladies Football Club’s under 15s team and has recently returned from an England training camp, added: “This is a wonderful opportunity to have somewhere to train on our doorstep at the Marford playing fields as people can walk there very easily.”

MP for Hitchin and Harpenden Peter Lilley said: “This investment by Sport England is truly deserved by Wheathampstead whose residents have long requested such a facility.”

The parish council is holding a public drop-in session to show detailed images and information about the project from noon to 8pm on Monday, March 4, in the Hewitt Room of the Memorial Hall.