Larwood Park dream becoming a reality for Ashfield RUFC

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Ashfield Rugby Club’s new £1.3m dream home could become a reality by the start of the 2016/17 season.

Work has begun on Larwood Park, which will become a sporting and community hub, on an area of land off Sutton Road, Kirkby.

Having gained full planning permission in July 2012, Ashfield, in conjunction with property developer Westerman Homes, are ready to build a two storey clubhouse facility along with rugby and cricket pitches and a multi-use games area.

With with over 250 club members and families, after years of being nomadic, they have been working on developing an Ashfield base for the ever-growing club for over 18 years

Work has already begun on the site with consultation to grant award agencies and sponsors alike to find the last £100,000 needed to deliver what will be a beacon facility in the county.

“This will make a massive difference to us and the community as a whole,” said Ashfield press officer Paul Wilson.

“We currently operate out of two areas with the juniors and the men’s and women’s senior teams playing off the A38 at the junction with Penny Emma Way and the tag teams from U6 to U12 playing at Pretty Polly.

“This is going to give us one base and bring everyone together. It is a little disjointed at the moment, though we are very appreciative of what we have right now as some clubs don’t even have that.

“With no disrespect to our current teams, we hope we will attract better players with the new facilities as we are currently in Midlands 4 East but do have aspirations to move up the leagues.

“In the past we have played at Kirkby, Sutton Lawn, the old Mansfield Hosiery Mills before they built a B&Q on it, Moor Lane and now the A38. The word nomadic has been used more than once.”

The ground will be named after Nuncargate’s former England cricket legend Harold Larwood.

“It was an obvious choice to be fair,” said Wilson. “We wanted a cross-sport name that didn’t favour any particular sport and I don’t think you get more famous than Harold Larwood locally with him being born just down the road. Kris Commons Cul-des-sac wouldn’t have been right!”

The club now has to project manage the development and will be going out to tender shortly for all contractors needed to build such a development.

David Owen Ashfield RUFC vice chairman said: “Ashfield Rugby Club will manage and make available a community facility that we hope other organisations will use to better support local social activities that will benefit the community as a whole.

“When completed it is envisaged the new facilities will be used for sports and social clubs covering rugby, football, basketball, netball and cricket along with mother and baby groups, slimming groups and other community related clubs.

“We hope that these facilities will help support local community groups who need a base for the future.”

Ashfield RUFC also run a community project which supports the schools in the Ashfield district called First Point Care and Protection.

He added: “First Point is proud to be able to support the Ashfield, Mansfield, and Bolsover District with high quality outdoor education.

“These courses have been developed over the past 10 years with a large number of schools benefiting from this predominantly outdoor based course which helps disaffected children realise their potential and gain valuable confidence and life skills experience.

“The new clubhouse will also be used as a base for these educational courses.

“We have seen great success from these courses with the majority of students being reintroduced into the classroom environment and we have then supported the students to find suitable work after leaving school.”

Ashfield are currently looking for around £100,000 to complete the finance and Paul Wilson said: “If any local businesses would like to throw some money in we would be very grateful and happy to give them some sort of sponsorship recognition.

“A national company based at Edinburgh have just given us the best part of £2.5k and will be the new shirt sponsor. Their sales director used to play for us.

“We are now looking for a cricket club, a girls’ basketball team and mother and toddler groups who need a home. We can accommodate between 9am-5pm or during the sporting calendar.”

Larwood Park is expected to be up and running within 18 months, and Ashfield hope it could be complete even sooner, possibly for the start of the 2016/17 rugby union season.

“Houses are being built now at the bottom end of the site from where we are at the top,” added Wilson. “We have milestones to hit on the back of this.

“If we can get it complete sooner then that would be a real bonus. It would be nice to have it for the start of a season.”

Anyone interested in offering financial help to the club and the Larwood Park project or wanting to get their club or group into the facilities can call Paul Wilson on 07970 454501.