A TURF-CUTTING ceremony was held to mark the start of building work on a state-of-the-art sporting hub in Blyth.
Work has begun on a new full-size artificial football pitch that will provide top-of-the-range sporting facilities for thousands of people in the town.
The construction phase of the £731,420 project at the Blyth School Community College, got under way last week after nearly 10 years of planning.
The ambitious plans have finally come to fruition after a group of organisations pooled efforts to source funding to overhaul the current facilities at the school on Chase Farm Drive.
Once completed later this year, the new-look site will include a full-size, floodlit, artificial grass pitch, known as a 3G pitch, and the school’s playing fields will have been transformed to create three junior-size pitches as well as one full-size grass pitch.
Bridget Knowles, headteacher at Blyth School, said: “We are all well aware of the benefits of sport in school and we are pleased that we will be able to offer our pupils and their families more opportunities to play football and keep fit.”
The new development will be shared by the school and Blyth Town FC, Blyth Rangers FC and Blyth Spartans Juniors FC.
Russell Parker, chairman of Blyth Spartans Juniors, said: “It’s great news that the finance is in place to get it done. To me, the big benefit is the 3G state-of- the-art artificial pitch as it means there will be a pitch available that people can use in poor weather.
“At the minute, we train indoors during the winter so we are limited with the size, but with this we can transfer training outside and not be restricted by four walls.”
The new and improved facilities will be served by the school’s existing changing rooms and car parks. The site will be designated primarily for football, although it will be available for other activities such as tag rugby and general fitness training.
The investment for the project was provided by the Football Foundation, Blyth Valley Arts and Leisure (BVAL), The Blyth School Community College, Northumberland County Council and grassroots football clubs in the area.
Bruce Ledger, chief executive of BVAL, which will manage the club and community use of the site, said: “The new facilities will help the centre become a sporting hub for the town of Blyth and beyond.”
Pictured from left: Bridget Knowles, head teacher of The Blyth School Community College; Stephen Spaven, director of sales for Support in Sport; Councillor Lesley Rickerby, executive member for children and young people at Northumberland County Council; Diane Houghton, at HR Blyth School Community College and Paul Metcalfe and Bruce Ledger from Blyth Valley Arts and Leisure