Thanks to grants from Hampshire County Council, Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council, Hampshire Playing Fields Association, Living Spaces and the Police Authority, St Mary Bourne was able to build a new recreation area - helped by £30,000 raised locally.
"This was a very well attended ceremony, with around 250, mostly local people present, but also attended by representatives from the local council (Cllrs Alison Wall and Horace Mitchell), Hampshire County Council (Cllr David Kirk) The Hampshire Police Authority (Mrs Judi Griffin, Chairman Crime Prevention Panel) and Hampshire Playing Fields Association (Malcolm Miles, General Secretary). Also present was the architect, Michael Weakley."
Alan Marsden, Chairman St Mary Bourne Partish Council, opened the proceedings by reviewing the background to the project before introducing Philip Winchcombe, the Chairman of St Mary Bourne New Recreation Area Project Group.
This is an extract from Philip Winchcombe's speech.
"Our initial estimate of the cost of the project was £50,000, but we encountered real diffulties in raising the money; we were not eligible for lottery grants because we were either too small a project for some applications or not 'disadvantaged' enough; we had problems in seeking sponsorship, because although we were a community group, many charities regarded us as a statutory body because we were working on behalf of the parish council; and the general complexity of many of the grant application forms was horrendous.
I am grateful to the Hampshire Playing Fields Association for £2500 and the offer of a low interest loan which was not in fact needed; to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister which has given £10,000 through an organisation called Living Spaces to 'improve derelict land; to Hampshire County Council which gave £5000; to the Crime Prevention Panel of the Hampshire Police Authority which gave £4000; and above all to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council which gave £15,000 which enabled the project to be completed 6 months ahead of even the revised target. I thank especially Cllr Horace Mitchell, our local Borough Councillor and Cllr Alison Wall, Cabinet Member for Recreation, both of whom have taken a personal interest in our application for funding and helped in other ways as well.
I am grateful to the community and especially to Mike Crofts who masterminded the extremely successful fundraising programme and to Bridget Culley who had been treasurer throughout the project. Some £30,000, nearly half of the cost, has been raised locally."
The Reverend Canon Martin Coppen then blessed the new recreation area before Cllr Horace Mitchell unveiled a plaque and cut the ribbon, after saying a few words congratulating the parish on achieving such a project in such a short space of time.
The project itself has an all weather surface accommodating a full size tennis court and 2 mini tennis courts, football and basket ball and a variety of other games suitable for young people of all ages, as well as adults. Its popularity was shown when a visit after lunch revealed 21 using the area, using 2 different football goals, the basket ball goal, a mini tennis court and several of the games marked out on the surface. There is also an open pavilion, and open shelter for summer use and several benches making the area an attractive meeting point for all ages.
Sir George said "As someone who used to live in the village, I was not at all surprised that they cleared the hurdles in their path and provided this new facility so quickly. It is a tribute to Philip Winchcombe's leadership, the community spirit in the village and the generosity of the residents that there are so many facilities in this village. If they bid to hold the Olympic Games there, they would probably win."