Ipswich: Huge boost for football club and community

IPSWICH: One of the town’s leading amateur football clubs has been able to give its community a massive boost – thanks to its local McDonald’s.

Whitton United has been able to give its clubhouse a �7,000 make-over, transforming the main function room and banishing the mould that had made the temporary building difficult to use during the winter months.

New windows are due to be installed this week – and the clubhouse is preparing for big re-launch next weekend.

The work has been made possible thanks to the donation from Mark Richards, who owns a number of McDonald’s franchises, including the Whitehouse drive-thru just up the road.

The temporary building has been the clubhouse for 19 years. There are proposals to develop the site for housing, build a new clubhouse on the other side of the King George V playing fields with a main pitch for the club and develop new football pitches next to the Whitton Sports Centre.

But that depends on the housing market picking up – and is expected to be several years away.

Whitton United committee members were determined to ensure their clubhouse should be a hub for the local community, and got the backing of local MP Dr Dan Poulter.

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Club chairman Ruel Fox, a former Norwich City and Newcastle United player, said: “It is very important to us to provide something that the whole community can use and this work has made a huge difference.

“There are not a great number of community facilities in this part of the town – and we want to make this as welcoming as possible for everyone in the area.”

Already the club has got the backing of the local church, and is also seeking more sponsorship.

Mr Richards said he had been keen to help out because he, and McDonald’s, recognised the importance of supporting the communities they served.

He said: “It is important for us as a part of the local community that we support organisations like this – and we may well bring some of our meetings or training seminars here.”

The club is also looking for other commercial sponsorship. It has been given new heaters by B&Q’s nearby store and is also looking for other help.

Mr Fox was delighted by the response they had been getting from the area.

“We used to be a bit embarrassed about the state of the clubhouse, but now it is something that is really providing something to the community,” he said. The official relaunch of the clubhouse will be on Saturday night with an evening of live reggae to celebrate.

n How important is Whitton United to the local community? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk