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Double delight as Long Melford clubs get green light for new home

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The two football clubs representing Long Melford are celebrating after getting the green light to start work on a £730,000 new clubhouse.

Eastern Counties League Long Melford FC, the 10th oldest club in the country, and Long Melford Colts & Fillies FC, running teams for eight to 18-year-olds, have spent four years working together on an ambitious scheme to safeguard the future of both clubs and provide a multi-purpose leisure facility for the whole community.

Now, work on the new building is expected to start in late July and be completed by the end of the year. As well as first class facilities for the Suffolk clubs, the new building will provide the whole community with a much-needed, modern facility for local groups and private functions.

The Football Foundation, thanks to their partnership with the The FA, Premier League, Sport England supporting football at grassroots level, are providing nearly £480,000 of funding.

Football Foundation’s interim chief executive Robert Sullivan said: “We know the huge benefits playing regular football can have on individuals’ physical and mental well-being. That’s why we’re committed to transforming the face of grassroots football facilities in this country.

“It’s therefore very welcome news to hear that this funding will support these two long-established clubs in developing a new clubhouse which will also benefit their local community.

“Working with our partners – the Premier League, The FA, government and Sport England – we will be investing in over £1bn worth of local facilities across the country over the next decade.

“We believe we can transform lives and strengthen communities by unlocking the power of pitches and this is another project that brings us closer to that ultimate goal.”

A new non-profit making charity, the Long Melford Community Sports Trust, was set up by representatives from both clubs to manage the scheme and the clubhouse.

IMPRESSIVE: An artist's impression of the new clubhouse

IMPRESSIVE: An artist’s impression of the new clubhouse

Trust chair Peter Turner, who is also a director of Long Melford FC, said: “When we first approached the Football Foundation nearly four years ago, they agreed a new building would help generate the revenue needed to expand our youth section safeguard the future of Long Melford FC and continually improve the facilities at Stoneylands.

“The scheme would never have got off the ground without their financial backing, and the incredible technical support, advice and encouragement they gave us as the bid progressed reflects huge credit on everyone involved.”

The new building has been designed by father and daughter team Kevin and Olivia Hurley from Long Melford-based KHA Survey and Design. As work progresses, fans will be able to see regular updates on the build on the Long Melford Community Sports Trust Facebook page

Trust member Rob Edwards said: “Kevin and Olivia’s expertise and enthusiasm have been absolutely vital. They recognised we needed a building that would work for Long Melford FC, the Colts & Fillies and the wider community and their design exceeded our expectations.

“We are also hugely indebted to our other funding providers, Babergh District Council, Long Melford Parish Council and the Hamilton Trust, who all recognised this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide the whole community with a facility it can be proud of.

“Caroline Smith from Castele Consultancy also deserves a special mention for coordinating our funding bids and convincing us that what seemed like a pipe dream could become reality.”

Colts & Fillies chairman Rob Bowden added: “As well as financial support, we needed the backing of Christine Mills, who owns the pitches our junior teams play on, Long Melford Cricket Club, and the Long Melford Community Association who are trustees of the cricket ground.

“To protect their extremely generous financial investment in this scheme The Football Foundation insisted we agreed a new 25-year lease on Mrs Mills’ pitches and an agreement we could carry on using the cricket ground for training and matches from October to April.

“Everyone recognised the importance of the scheme and were happy to help, but getting everything sorted out turned into a desperate race against time and we will always be grateful to Mrs Mills,and everyone at the cricket club and the Long Melford Community Sports Association for all their hard work and support.

“Jonathan Ewbank from the Parish Council also deserves huge credit for the crucial role he played in ensuring we hit the deadline for completing our funding bid.

“It just shows what can happen when the whole community pulls together and it’s great to be able to announce some positive news at such a difficult time.

“It’s an exciting project and we would love to hear from local people, companies and community groups who’d like to get involved or might be interested in using the clubhouse once it opens.

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Images courtesy of The Non-League Paper & @Longmelfordfc/Twitter

 

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