�45k fundraising quest for Sidmouth Cricket Club

SIDMOUTH Cricket Club has launched a �45,000 fundraising bid to re-thatch the roof of its famous pavilion.

SIDMOUTH Cricket Club has launched a �45,000 fundraising bid to re-thatch the roof of its famous pavilion.

Members of the West Country's oldest cricket club hope work can begin early next year and are optimistic of meeting their sizeable cash target, having earmarked ways of landing half of the money already.

Neil Gamble, Chairman of the Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis, Croquet and Hockey Club said: "The present thatch is 30 years old and is badly in need of replacement. On the last occasion in 1979 when it cost �8,500. Funds were raised from various sources, including the town council and Devon County Council, to re-roof the pavilion.

"We have not had any luck so far with the above bodies, but have been offered a grant of �10,000 from the Sid Vale Association, via the Keith Owen Fund, provided that we match their sum by our own efforts.

"To this end, we are running a grand draw in connection with South East Devon Rotary Club, which we hope will raise around �5,000 and are seeking donations from our own members and others.

"An organisation within the club, the Friends of the Fortfield, has already raised �5,000.

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The pavilion is used by a number of community groups. We think of it as a social amenity and well worth preserving."

Founded in 1823, Sidmouth Cricket Club is the oldest in the West Country. Its pavilion played host to the founding of Somerset County Cricket Club in the 1870s.

Some of cricket's most famous national and international cricketers, including Viv Richards and Sir Jack Hobbs, have played on the Fortfield wicket over the last 150 years. Touring teams from different parts of the country and abroad still compete there annually.

On Tuesday, Sidmouth's cricketers took on a Somerset Stragglers team which has been visiting the town for more than 100 years.

Mr Gamble said: "From July to August touring teams play here every day of the week. That's hundreds and hundreds of people. You can bump into someone in the street in London and ask them if they know Sidmouth and they will say yes.

It's a beautiful and special setting. People want to come and play here as it's such a memorable ground."

Master thatcher Mark Smith was chosen to carry out the work after a tendering process.

Raffle tickets for the club's draw are available by contacting Neil on (01395) 514369 or the clubhouse on (01395) 513229.