Revamped Clubhouse Nears Completion

Work on phase one of the new-look clubhouse for the Long Wittenham Athletics Club in Bodkin’s Field continues to take shape and now planning begins for part-two.

The club secured a grant of £3,000 from South Oxfordshire District Council and a further £2,500 came from the parish council.  One of the conditions of the district council’s grant was that the club had to match the grant with its own money.

The grants were used to replace electric wiring and fittings throughout the club.  New windows, doors and plastic, shiplap style cladding for the exterior of the building are being fitted.  Fascias and guttering have also been replaced.  The work is being carried out by club members and the project should be completed this summer.

Ian Burton and Steve Bolton installing new cladding to the front of the clubhouse

Last year the walls of the clubroom and kitchen were stripped to bare plasterboard and skimmed with plaster before being painted.  Club chairman Derek Meadham said: “These measurers will not only improve the external appearance of the building but will help reduce heating costs.  We have also cleared the ground around the club house and cut back the hedgerow around the perimeter of the field to a manageable size.”

He said the club was fortunate in securing sponsorship from Station Flooring of Didcot.  The company supplied and fitted new carpet and vinyl in the bar area.  Station Flooring also provided £500-worth of new kit for the first team.  Quinton Mechanical Services of Didcot bought training tops for players at a cost of £600.

Mr Meadham added: “We are very fortunate to have secured the help of Station Flooring and Quinton Mechanical.  Sponsorship like this is an invaluable lifeline.  We are always on the look-out for companies or individuals who can help support us in providing a valuable local activity for the village and young people.”

Club president Bill Symonds said: “There has been little activity of this nature at the club since our last major refurbishment for the club’s centenary in 2002.  It is good to see such progress and activity again and all those involved must be congratulated for their efforts.”

Long Wittenham Athletic Football Club was formed in 1902 and all that time has played in the North Berks League.  There are many hidden costs in running village football clubs that go unnoticed by the public.  Entry fees are nearly £150 a season and on top of that the club has player registration fees of £5 per player. The club has 50 registered players. If a player is sent off during a game the club has to pay the league £30 but the player has to reimburse the club.

As phase one of the improvement scheme draws to a close planning is already underway for the next stage – new changing rooms and toilets, including a toilet for disabled people.  This is a much bigger project and could cost at least £30,000.

Part two will involve fund raising, preparation of plans, drawing up estimates and making a planning application.  The club hopes to make a start next year.  It will seek further grant-aid and has also embarked on raising money by encouraging village organisation to make more use of facilities.  A meeting of Caravan Club members is scheduled for June next year.

Bodkin’s Field provides a safe playing area with parking facilities and the club owns a large marque which can be hired out for functions at Bodkin’s Field.  There are plans next year to revive the old Wittenham Feast festival.  The club’s events organiser Steve Bolton said: “We continue to make improvements to facilities and we have ambitious plans in the pipeline to bring the club up to date.  Our aim is to make Bodkin’s Field a place where village groups can stage their own events and activities. But we need the support of local organisations to help make a success of what is an attractive local venue.”

For the first time the annual dinner and dance will be held under the marque in Bodkin’s Field on 19th May.  The club’s annual meeting will be held on 6th June starting at 7.30pm in the clubhouse.

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