New pitch for Felixstowe

SIXTEEN years after fundraising first started, Felixstowe today has at long last got an all-weather sports pitch.The £450,000 project has been constructed at the town's Orwell High School, but will be a community facility.

SIXTEEN years after fundraising first started, Felixstowe today has at long last got an all-weather sports pitch.

The £450,000 project has been constructed at the town's Orwell High School, but will be a community facility.

Youngsters at the school in Maidstone Road will use the 600 sq metre floodlit synthetic grass surface during the day, and then in the evenings and at weekends it will be used by the community, including football and hockey clubs.

It will provide a major boost for training facilities for clubs such as Felixstowe and Walton Utd, Kirton Kestrels and Trimley Red Devils, but also Felixstowe Hockey Club, whose first and second teams have had to play their “home” matches at Ipswich and Woodbridge because of a lack of an all-weather pitch.

Orwell High headteacher Peter Tomkins said: “A lot of time and effort has gone into this and it is a truly community-based project.

“It's not for the school - it's for the whole community of Felixstowe and will be available to benefit everyone in the town.

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“Our job will be to make sure the town gets the best use they can out of it.”

Discussions on a possible all-weather pitch started in the 1980s and then in 1992 an appeal was launched but it stuttered and failed.

Then five years ago the project was picked up again and a task group formed to look at fresh plans and seek funds.

Malcolm Minns, former councillor and hockey club supporter who launched the original appeal, said: “I am thrilled to see it actually here - it will be a wonderful facility for Felixstowe for all ages to use.”

Some 55 per cent of the funding came from the Football Foundation, along with £90,000 from Suffolk Coastal council, and significant contributions other organisations, including the town and county council, the resort's sports council, Orwell High, Biffa Awards, Sportsmatch, Felixstowe Hockey Club, LM Logistics, and the Felixstowe Mayor's Ball Fund.

Suffolk Coastal chairman Cliff Cocker cut a ribbon to officially open the project while an all-age hockey match and under-14 girls and under-eights boys football matches took place on the pitch.

The pitch is available for hire by the community until 10pm evenings and weekends - those interested in booking should contact the lettings officer at Orwell High on 01394 282628.

What do you think of the new facility? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk