A Northumberland community cricket club is aiming to be a cut above the rest next season after purchasing a new mower to help improve its pitch preparation.
Blagdon Park Cricket Club has brought in a specialist new Protea wicket/square mower to replace a predecessor that was reaching the end of its working life and was needing increasing amounts of maintenance and repair from the volunteer team that looks after the ground.
The project has been supported with a £1,162 grant from the community benefits fund linked to regional employer Banks Mining’s nearby Brenkley Lane surface mine.
And the club is hoping that the improved practice and match wickets that the new mower will help them prepare will have a positive impact on their teams’ performance and will help younger players to better develop their techniques.
Founded in 1888, Blagdon Park Cricket Club has two senior men’s teams completing in the Northumberland & Tyneside Cricket League, as well as a thriving junior section which runs teams at U9, U11 and U13 level.
It has also a growing girls’ section, with U14s and U15s teams competing in the Northumberland Women’s Cricket League.
Ron Blyth, secretary at Blagdon Park Cricket Club, says: “The mower we’ve been using for the last decade was also funded by a grant from the Banks Group, and while it did a good job for us for a long time, it was beginning to wear out and wasn’t really up to the job any more.
“We were desperate to replace it, but would have had to make do and mend for the foreseeable future if Banks hadn’t generously stepped in to help us once again.
“Bringing in this new equipment means our volunteer groundkeepers will need to spend less time on both preparing the pitches and maintaining the mower, and having improved surfaces on which to play and practice can only be beneficial to our players’ performance.”
The Banks Group is a longstanding supporter of both professional and amateur cricket around its home region, sponsoring Durham Cricket’s youth development squads, six cup competitions run across the region by the North East Premier League and Northumberland County Cricket Club.
As well operating the Brenkley Lane and nearby Shotton surface mine, the family-owned firm is also the developer of a number of residential property and renewable energy projects in the region.
Jeannie Raine, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “Blagdon Park CC is a very successful community club and we’re very pleased to be renewing our support for its excellent work.
“All our schemes are designed to bring a range of benefits to the communities in which they’re based and the Brenkley Lane fund has enabled revenues from the surface mine to support a wide range of important community improvement projects over many years.”
Grants from the Brenkley Lane fund are primarily available to organisations in two specific areas – Newcastle City Council’s Castle Ward, which includes Dinnington, Brunswick, Hazelrigg and the Brenkley area, and the Ponteland East Ward of Northumberland County Council, which comprises Stannington, Milkhope, Blagdon and the Horton Grange area.
Projects outside these areas may also be eligible for support if it can be shown that they benefit people living within them.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should first contact the fund manager for The Banks Community Fund at the County Durham Community Foundation on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.