Ely’s New Astro Pitch Launched with a Fitting Tribute

Ely’s New Astro Pitch Launched with a Fitting Tribute

Two years of hard work fundraising and seeking suppliers led to the launch of the new Astro Pitch last weekend kindly done by Helen Richardson-Walsh MBE, midfielder of the Olympic Winning GB Hockey Team in Rio last year.

The pitch has been dedicated to Trevor Hopkinson who sadly passed away during the long process but his family were in attendance.

Gallery of Opening

Julia Gilbert, opened the ceremony with a formal speech found below and which tells the full story.

Good afternoon everyone!

It’s lovely to see so many people here – thank you so much for coming along today to celebrate the opening of our new astro pitch!

As many of you know, Ely Outdoor Sports Association is responsible for providing and maintaining the facilities that you see here.  Not only are they available for our member clubs – Ely City Hockey Club, Ely Tigers Rugby Club and Ely Tennis Club – they are also available to hire by the wider Ely Community.  The astro pitch is the home of Ely City Hockey Club but a number of junior and adult football teams, together with a couple of local schools, also use it on a weekly basis. It is a much used and needed community asset.

We started fundraising for our new astro pitch about 15 years ago when the old astro pitch was just 10 years old.  Astro pitch carpets generally only last 10- 15 years and with the replacement cost at just under £200,000 we had a big target to reach.

A number of fundraising events and activities took place but with the astro pitch getting older, we were having to spend more and more on patching it and maintaining it.  In the last few years, we were having to spend on average £6000 each year – a huge sum to fork out when you’re trying to save for a new carpet! Although it was often of benefit to the Hockey Club when the opposition, not knowing how slippery the bottom right side of the pitch was, would end up on their bottoms after a run down the wing, the old pitch became too dangerous to play on last year.  At 25 years old it had served its purpose.

Two and a half years ago we realised that the pitch was coming to the end of its life.  Having raised only a quarter of the £198K needed to replace the astro carpet and shockpad and although we had been unsuccessful in applying for a grant 8 years ago, we realised that we had no other option but to try again and to apply for not just one grant but a number of different grants.  We also decided to reach out to the local community and businesses.

Two and half years later, I am very pleased to say that we managed to secure enough money from a number of grant providers and received some very generous donations from local businesses.  Work started on the pitch in October last year and was finally completed in January.

We are hugely grateful to Sport England, the Amey Community Fund, the National Hockey Foundation and East Cambridgeshire District Council for giving us a grant.  A huge thank you too to local businesses G’s Fresh, A L Lee Farming and J Gilbert & Son Ltd for you’re very generous donations. You all made our new astro pitch possible!

I genuinely don’t believe though that we would have been as successful in our grant applications without the help, support and advice of Victor Le Grand at East Cambs District Council, Simon Fairhall of Living Sport and Andy Dale of England Hockey.  Their never ending help in all our grant applications was invaluable and very much appreciated. Thank you.

Here at EOSA and Ely City Hockey Club, a big thank you must also go to Hannah Brown and Tom Grimshaw for their tireless work identifying funding opportunities and filling out numerous application forms, to Gemma Neal and Gemma Mott and their team for the organising the various fundraising events: to David Carford for ensuring that we met and completed all the criteria necessary to become ClubMark accredited: to Vicky Cooper for putting our accounts into a format that the grant providers required and to Jon Evans for all his help and support when we actually came to replace the carpet.  From a personal point of view I would also like to say a big thank you to my husband Mark and daughters, Annabelle and Zara for all their support. Lots of people in the Hockey Club took part in and helped with the various fundraising events and they all deserve a huge thank you too. I would though like to give a special mention to three Junior members – Daniel, Eve and Mia – who took part in a triathlon around Ely and between them raised over £1200 for the new pitch. They are a real inspiration to us all.

Finally but by no means least, I would like to thank Trevor Hopkinson, who is very sadly no longer with us.  His family – Kate, Greg and Krista are though here today. Without his knowledge, experience and contacts, none of this would have happened.  Having spent years trying to raise the necessary funds for the replacement astro pitch, he introduced me to Victor, Simon and Andy and passed on all the relevant documents and information that we needed to be able to submit the various grant applications.  He was Ely City Hockey Club and in honour of all the time and effort he put into not only the Club but also to the replacement of the astro pitch, we are naming the new pitch after him.

I’d like to hand you over now to Paul Massey, Chairman of Ely City Hockey Club, who is going to say a few words about Trevor and the Hockey Club.

Julia Gilbert, Opening Statement, Trevor Hopkinson Astro Pitch

If you would be interested in using the new facilities or playing hockey then please visit The City of Ely Hockey Clubs Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ElyCityHockeyClub/

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