Woolpit ready to unveil pavilion extension

FRESH LOOK: Woolpit's new pavilion
FRESH LOOK: Woolpit's new pavilion
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Woolpit Cricket Club will open its new £152,000 pavilion extension on Sunday, on the same day they host a Minor Counties match for the first time.

It will be a day of double celebration for the club who have long felt their facilities did not match their league status.

Suffolk face Bedfordshire in a must-win one-day Unicorns Trophy fixture at Rectory Lane, shortly after ex-England batsman and now Sky broadcaster Nick Knight will open the extension.

Ben Shepperson of Mildenhall Cricket Club and Dominic Manthorpe of Bury St Edmunds Cricket Club will take to the field for Suffolk and will try to help the county side progress to the quarter finals.

It will be tough match at Woolpit’s home ground, who have never had a Minor Counties match take place due to a lack of suitable facilities to host a full county fixture.

But the club has worked hard to change this over the past decade and the latest extension is the second time the pavilion, originally built 30 years ago, has been extended after being enlarged in 2006.

The new extension has doubled the size of the pavilion and houses two changing rooms with showers and toilets. The kitchen area and the social area have also been enlarged.

One of the old changing rooms has been converted into improved ladies’ facilities and extra storage area, while the disabled access and toilets have been revamped.

Work on the extension, which cost £152,000, started in October and finished for the start of this season but it was never officially opened.

The cost has been met through £75,000 Lottery funding via Sport England, £25,000 from Mid Suffolk District Council, £12,000 from Section 106 community funding and £5,000 from Suffolk County Council.

The club has raised £15,000 and the remaining £20,000 has been covered by an interest-free loan from the ECB.

Club captain Tim Parker said: “The success of the club on the field has not been matched by the facilities we had off it.

“We have always had a buoyant junior section and needed to identify places for them to play which we have done by now running a 4th XI side on a Saturday.

“As a club we have focused on the local community and whole families, so the impact of being relegated from the East Anglian Premier League has not been as dramatic at it may have been for other clubs who are not so well structured.

“We are looking forward to our first official Minor Counties match.

“Our progress had been noted by the county, but until this season we have not had the facilities to host a full county fixture.”

Knight will officially declare the Woolpit pavilion open at 10.30am, with the cricket beginning at 11am.

It is the final game for Suffolk in Group Four of the Unicorns Championship but currently sit at the bottom. A win could still see them progress to the next stage on run-rate.