A village’s dream of building a new sports and community centre is set to become reality after the project was awarded almost £700,000 of Lottery funding.
Residents and community leaders in Marshland St James are celebrating after their bid for backing was accepted by the Big Lottery Fund in the latest round of grants, announced today.
But officials say local community efforts will need to continue in order to make the vision of the new site a reality.
The Marshland St James and District Community and Sports Centre (MDCSC) has been awarded more than £690,000 towards the cost of the new facility, which is intended to replace the village’s present hall and sports pavilion.
The grant will cover around three-quarters of the estimated £945,000 cost, with the remainder being drawn from the sale of the current hall site, other grants and community fundraising.
Parish council chairman Sue Askew said: “This is fantastic news for our village. The new centre will be a much-needed hub and central meeting point for our community.”
Lee Chapman, chairman of the Marshland St James and District Community and Sports Centre (MDCSC) committee, added: “We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this major grant.
“All credit is due to the local community and local businesses who have wholeheartedly supported this project since day one by giving their time, by donating funds, and by volunteering to make the new centre a reality.
“We would also like to thank the Big Lottery Fund for recognising that enhanced community facilities were urgently needed for Marshland St James and the surrounding rural area and for awarding the village this major grant.”
The new complex, which will be on Smeeth Road, will include a main hall, a community shop and café, a second smaller hall for conferencing and seminar uses, plus additional meeting room spaces and improved sports changing and toilet facilities.
Officials now intend to start building work early next year and hope the new facility will be open by the end of 2017.
But Mr Chapman said community support would still be needed, despite the grant award.
He said: “Now the real work of building the new centre begins. We will need to step up our fundraising efforts still further – and we will shortly launch a Buy-a-Brick campaign.
“We also urgently need more volunteers to help our small project team to plan and prepare for our grand opening next year.”
Anyone interested in getting involved with the project should contact Mr Chapman on 07717 676262.
Meanwhile, two other projects in the Fenland area will share more than £13,000 of funding from the Awards for All programme.
People and Animals UK has been given £9,912 to run a series of animal-related activities for vulnerable young people in the Fenland area.
The programme is specifically intended to help those at risk of disengagement from education or employment because of mental health issues.
And the Fenland Volunteer Bureau has been awarded £3,300 for a project called It Can’t Be Happening In Wisbech.
The scheme will recruit disadvantaged volunteers to produce a monthly magazine promoting volunteering opportunities in the area.
The groups are among more than 60 who are sharing almost £3 million of support across East Anglia.
Lyn Cole, grant-making director for Big Lottery Fund England, said: “These projects will make a huge difference to the lives of many.
“They are excellent examples of local people working together to help others in their community to build on the skills they have and maximise their potential.”