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Lady Gass opens new Somerset village sports hall accompanied by Ian Liddell-Grainger MP

Lady Gass opens new Somerset village sports hall accompanied by Ian Liddell-Grainger MP

Date published: 01/08/2017
Lady Gass opens new Somerset village sports hall accompanied by Ian Liddell-Grainger MP

Dame Elizabeth Periam Gass, former Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, officially opened the new Wembdon Village Hall and natural grass pitches in Bridgwater recently (Friday 21 July). Lady Gass was joined by Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and Somerset. 

The project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation. 

The grant has enabled Wembdon Village Hall & Playing Field Trust to develop 11 acres of land into a state-of-the-art village hall, comprising: a community lounge; a two team changing pavilion; officials’ rooms and natural grass pitches that support both football and cricket. 

Wembdon Village Hall and Playing Fields Trust worked alongside the Somerset FA and the Football Foundation to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation.

The pitches will be made available to the community for bookings and other users will include: Wembdon JFC; Wembdon Cricket Club; Wembdon Rounders; Sunshiners Nursery and Wembdon St. Georges School.

Previously, Wembdon JFC played at several other locations across the county and this new facility will allow its teams, ranging from Under-7 to Under-16 level, to play on one site. The club is also working to create stronger pathways into its adult sides for junior players. The new pitches are expected to boost football participation by 42% overall. Additionally, it is expected to raise female sports participation in the area by 120%. 

The Trust worked in partnership with the Somerset FA to secure a £320,000 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Among other investment, they also received £50,000 through Sport England Inspired Facilities and £50,000 from the Sport England Protected Playing Fields scheme.

Founded in 2000, the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 261 grants worth £10.8m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £24.2m across the whole of Somerset.

By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game. Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said: “I’m delighted to see the brand new village hall and playing fields unveiled, and I’d like to thank the Trust for inviting me today. There has been a lack of sporting sites in our area, but these new pitches will change that.

“Grassroots sports facilities are so important, as they provide both a social outlet and a way to keep the community healthy. I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in securing this grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which made the project possible.”

Charles Johnston, Property Director for Sport England, said: “Sport England is delighted to have been involved in this project to upgrade Wembdon’s village hall and playing fields. We want to help people across the country work sports into their everyday lives, and facilities such as this one are excellent examples of how this can be achieved. Congratulations to the Wembdon Village Hall and Playing Field Trust, for their hard work in securing funding and making this project a success.”

Nick Searle, Secretary of Wembdon FC and Trust committee member, said: “This has been a tremendous effort by a dedicated bunch of people looking to build a truly iconic facility for the community of Wembdon. We would like to thank everyone who made this possible, including the Football Foundation and Sport England with their grants.  

“Not only did they provide money, but they also provided valuable advice along the journey. I am confident from comments already received, that this will make Wembdon a true community club with great parental support and well qualified coaches.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled Wembdon Village Hall & Playing Field Trust to upgrade their Village Hall. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area. Thank you to Ian Liddell-Grainger MP for taking the time to unveil the facility personally.

“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.4bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports.  

“With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part. This latest project in Bridgwater is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love of it and to stay healthy.”

ENDS

For more information contact:

- Nick Searle, Wembdon FC, on 07775 535 890 or at wfc.nick@hotmail.co.uk 
- Sophie Huby on 0345 345 4555 Ext: 4292 or sophie.huby@footballfoundation.org.uk

Image Credit: Jeff Searle


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“Grassroots sports facilities are so important, as they provide both a social outlet and a way to keep the community healthy." - Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgewater and West Somerset

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