A CRICKET club has been bowled over by a £80,000 cash boost.
Bosses at Seaham Harbour Cricket Club have used the windfall to put in a new practice area, electronic scoreboard and a garage to keep their machinery safe.
They have also relaid the road to its site in New Drive.
The additions will help the side, as well as its junior teams, as it moves into the North East Premier League Division two, the second tier of the game in the region, when the season starts in April.
A grant of £30,000 was awarded from the England and Wales Cricket Trust (EWCT), with £14,000 donated by Durham County Council used to cover the cost of the new nets.
Another sum of £36,000 was put together thanks to the support of the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO), the County Durham Community Foundation, councillors and a private donor. It was used to pay for the new board and storage.
Secretary Neil McKinney said: “It was fantastic news when we were awarded the grants because we are now able to provide top-class coaching facilities.
“We have 10 qualified coaches and next season we will introduce a much more structured coaching programme for all ages groups.
“In recent years we have made good progress and the club has achieved Clubmark and Focus Club status and we are also a Chance to Shine Club and we organise coaching and cricket opportunities in two schools.
“The new synthetic practice pitches are high quality and are ideal for the development of young cricketers and the senior players will also benefit from practice on good pitches.”
He added thanks to the EWCT and the council, particularly Councillor Geraldine Bleasdale, for their support, along with the East Durham Area Action Partnership for its help as it put together the bids. It now plans to increase its links with local schools and the community.
EWCT trustee Brian Havill said: “The England and Wales Cricket Trust is pleased to support projects that sustain high quality participation and enhance facilities.
“It is important that cricket clubs have access to funding, such as through this grant and programme, that allows them to make their facilities available to the community, schools and groups.”
The club will be opened on New Year’s eve from 7.30pm for a quiz and family night and will also host a sportsman’s night on February 22, which will feature former Sunderland and Derby County player Colin Todd and comedian Dave Greener.
Tickets are £12, which includes a pie and peas supper. For more details contact Neil on 07795 810 530.