Otters building for their cricket future
Club members young and old gathered at Salston Field as Ottery St Mary Cricket Club’s 150th anniversary season got off to a flying start when local dignitary, club president and former player Lord (Bill) Coleridge - a direct descendant of the town’s most illustrious son, poet and author Samuel Taylor Coleridge - cut the ribbon officially to open the Otters’ splendidly refurbished pavilion.
Club members young and old gathered at Salston Field as Ottery St Mary Cricket Club's 150th anniversary season got off to a flying start when local dignitary, club president and former player Lord (Bill) Coleridge - a direct descendant of the town's most illustrious son, poet and author Samuel Taylor Coleridge - cut the ribbon officially to open the Otters' splendidly refurbished pavilion.
The £25,000 project represents a remarkable transformation in which an adequate but rather tired 1970s' structure has been transformed into a facility commensurate with the ambitions of a forward-looking and vibrant club.
The main room has been completely refitted and enlarged, the bar facilities improved and an outside viewing area constructed, complete with disabled access.
A second phase of the project will hopefully include provision of female changing facilities, an umpires' changing room and an improved kitchen.
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As well as generating additional funds for the development of all areas of Ottery CC, the refurbished building should provide an excellent facility for use within the community as a whole.
Commenting on the background to the project, club chairman Rob Bradshaw-Smith explained: "It's our 150th anniversary this year - a proud moment for the club - and we decided we wanted to freshen up the clubhouse.
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"People with some foresight many years ago decided to buy the ground, and they also endeavoured to improve the facilities.
A new generation has come along and we're still very ambitious for the club.
"We're really keen on the junior side of things; we have over 100 members, and we thought we'd mark the 150th year by producing a really nice environment for people to enjoy their spare time."
The fund raising efforts of numerous club members have been critical in the project coming to fruition.
Sponsorship, donations and loans have been secured from a range of local businesses and individuals, all of whom have the interests of the club at heart. Bradshaw-Smith paid tribute to a number of individuals for particularly notable contributions: Ian Pugsley and Barry Flicker for their planning input, local builder and 1st XI opening bowler Rob Johns for his splendid construction work, Simon Tennant and Paul Thurgate for plumbing and electrics and Andy Harrison for co-ordinating fund raising.
The new facility represents the latest exciting development at a club and a ground which are truly thriving - a fact not lost on Lord Coleridge who, on surveying the vista of numerous youngsters practising on the outfield on a sunlit evening, observed: "Just look at the beauty of it - you can see that the club members have got the ground looking splendid.
"It's a triumph for all the people involved.
"This new balcony is wonderful and you have to praise any club which has been going for 150 years.
"The membership is growing and, casting your eye around, there's nothing but children and this is the main thing because it's a huge mistake not to play more sport at school.
"And then, of course, there's the social side of it - the sun is going down and I've got a drink in my hand!
"Having been born in Ottery St Mary 70 years ago and having always had an interest in cricket, I've never seen the ground look so wonderful."
By Ian Townsend
Ottery St Mary Cricket Club