The 6th of January, 2020 was exactly 3 years and 2 months since the disastrous fire that destroyed the Claygate Community Clubhouse and caused so much distress and heartache to all those in the community, and farther afield, who loved the Clubhouse. That is 1148 days without our wonderful community asset. However, the 6th January was also the official date when the Phoenix began to rise from the ashes. Planning has been approved, tender documents have been approved, and a building contractor has been appointed. Site building commenced on 12th January and rebuilding will follow shortly after that. The rebuild should be completed by mid-summer 2020, but let’s pray that it stops raining and the New Year weather is kind to us so that our 2020 Vision becomes a reality for all of us to enjoy! As there will be increased traffic and construction site activity during the rebuild project we would ask all drivers to be considerate and to park especially carefully on Dalmore Avenue enabling delivering lorries to enter and exit the recreation ground during construction hours. We wouldn’t want any accidents! If you can, please use the car park near Champions.
Our congratulations go to Armfield Construction, based in Chertsey, who won the tender for the rebuild project. Armfield Construction is a long-established building and contracting company with a substantial portfolio of both public and private sector clients. They have extensive involvement in public sector projects, such as schools, hospitals and housing, and were responsible for building the new William Perkins School Boathouse in Laleham, a two storey sporting facility not dissimilar to our own project. We are confident that they will do a great job and we are delighted to have them on board.
Let the build commence! It has taken an inordinate amount of time to get to this position but that is because, as a community, we had a vision that was not initially shared by the authorities, who have had to be persuaded over time that a bigger, better and more effective community facility could and should be built. In addition, that it would make financial sense for it to be built by the CRGT who are able to contract out to smaller building contractors than Kier who were the original council contractors for the build. Importantly, in the CRGT, there is a team of dedicated volunteers prepared to work hard for a better future and crucially there was a generous community who backed them and raised the money required to get it done. So yes, we will have a better Clubhouse, and it will include a community 1st floor facility, an improved kitchen and café, and more security.
The new café operator has also been selected and this news will be announced shortly. Helen Maguire, Chairman commented: “We are excited to have decided who will be running the new café, and we believe that they have the experience to run what will be a fantastic community environment. We’re currently going through the contractual process but will be able to announce the new cafe operator once this has been finalised.”
As the rebuild begins we will sadly be losing the Ashes Café, as the building contractors will be using the temporary cabins. The Ashes Café has resolutely provided recreation ground users with hot drinks, snacks and beverages over the past 3 years and the CRGT would like to thank Pam Jarvis, Debbie Bowles and Debbie Tuffen and team for working so hard at keeping us refreshed even on the coldest and wettest of days. We will miss you!
QUEEN’S AWARD FOR VOLUNTARY SERVICE
Talking of teams, we are very pleased to announce that the CRGT has been nominated for the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. The CRGT has been nominated not just for the work that we have done under the leadership of Chairman Helen Maguire over the past 3 years in managing the fallout after the Clubhouse fire, and in planning, organising and managing the Community Clubhouse rebuild, but also for consistently working above and beyond their remit in managing, maintaining and improving the facilities of the recreation ground. It is worth mentioning that although the CRGT receive an annual grant that helps to deliver great sporting and community facilities, the grant has not been increased for 15 years and in real terms is decreasing as it is not linked to inflation. The Trust however, consistently manage to maintain and improve all of the facilities on the recreation ground and in the adjoining woodland.
This unique UK national honour, the highest to be awarded to national volunteer groups, was created by Her Majesty to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002 to recognise the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups of volunteers. The recipients of the award are announced each year on 2 June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation, and are invited to the Queens garden party for a celebratory tea. We look forward to hearing if we have been successful in June 2020.
OTHER MATTERS THAT MATTER
Autumn and winter are particularly challenging times on the recreation ground, especially when you consider the phenomenal amount of rain that we have experienced over the past 2 months. The recreation ground has been especially hard hit and the natural clay base of the area means, unfortunately, that the ground doesn’t drain as well as other non-clay base parks. We realise that this has caused the natural walkways to become very wet and extremely muddy and it is inconvenient for some individuals, particularly those who wish to cross from Foley and Church Road to Dalmore Avenue. As a charity our funds our limited and we try to manage the recreation ground as best we can. The funds that we have raised for the Clubhouse are restricted for this purpose and can’t be spent on other areas. We have considered a number of ways to ease the problem but to install a safe temporary pathway is hugely expensive and other methods of forming a pathway have been rejected on health and safety grounds. A temporary path is not a cost that the Trust can currently bear. We understand that this is not the response that you may wish to hear but hope that you appreciate our financial challenges and may be able to find alternative routes during this particularly wet period.
Drainage and pathways on the recreation ground have always been a problem and this year has been particularly challenging. One of the priorities therefore, after the rebuild, will be to consider how we can alleviate future drainage problems.
Another area of the recreation ground that some of you have concerns about is the children’s play area. Both large swings and the sprung animal piece of equipment have been missing for a while. We share these concerns and have raised them with EBC, as they manage this area. The playground and facilities are now in poor condition and are quite outdated, but they are still in great demand by parents and children. We will be reminding EBC of our comments on this and will report back to you as soon as we have news.
With the help of the community, the CRGT have not only raised the funds required for the improved rebuild, but also for other important elements that will help to make the Clubhouse a great place to be, such as internal décor, fixtures and furnishings goes on. A very special thanks goes to the Co-op for their support which enabled them to present the CRGT with a huge, in every sense, cheque for £4431 at a recent Trust meeting. We thank Claire who presented the cheque, the Co-op, and their customers for their generosity and support.
Also, The Nias Wheatley Trust have very generously agreed to provide a further £3,000 worth of funding to go towards a larger lift in the Clubhouse that will accommodate more specialist wheelchairs. The original lift planned was smaller and whilst it accommodated wheelchairs it did not accommodate ones for individuals with more complex disabilities which are significantly larger. The additional requirements came out of discussions with the management team at Wingham Court in Claygate to ensure that the Clubhouse could accommodate their resident’s requirements. Wingham Court delivers 24-hour rehabilitation care and support for people living with complex needs and neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and acquired brain injury. Huge thanks also go to Sport England who agreed to donate a further £5,000 towards this initiative. The total additional cost to increase the lifts capacity was £10,000, so we are very nearly there.
FURTHER FUNDING NEEDED
The CRGT project team has worked very hard to ensure that the tight budget that Elmbridge Borough Council set for the rebuild project is adhered to and therefore there are still areas that require funding. All of the tenders received were above the budget estimates, so in order to keep within the parameters of the agreed EBC budget we had to remove some items. However, we are confident that we can still raise funds for these items:
• Retractable awning £6,300
• Drinking fountain £1,100
• Air conditioning system to provide additional cooling in the summer and heating in the winter
• Various loose kitchen equipment
• And other smaller items
These items come to a total of around £65,000 so if you think you can help in any way or know any businesses out there that would like to discuss sponsorship or funding please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re also looking for more individuals to join our fundraising team so if you are good at writing, or can organise an event, please do get in contact to see how you might be able to assist further.
If you would like to contribute to the CRGT project fund, please donate here: https://www.wonderful.org/charity/claygaterecreationgroundtrust
CRGT GENERAL MEETING: COMING SOON IN MARCH
Thanking all our volunteers and supporters for their contributions. Come join us for some wine and nibbles and find out where we are with the Clubhouse rebuild. Follow us on FB, Twitter and our website for further details.