Berwick Rugby Club believe that no child should be excluded from the opportunity to participate in sports; they’re heavily involved with local schools and actively encourage young people, of all backgrounds, to get into athletics. In order to continue, their main revenue source, the 25-year-old function room needed to be drastically improved, increasing the appeal of the clubhouse as a venue.
The community hub has achieved LEADER funding through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE); a programme created to fund projects that support growth in the rural economy.
Speaking about the refurbishment, Berwick Rugby Club committee member, Chris Budzynski said: “Our sports development officer, for several years now, has gone into first, middle and senior schools in our area, promoting sporting opportunities. This has proved to be very successful and has resulted in increased numbers of youngsters from all backgrounds joining the club; we currently have 400 players, ranging from four years old to veterans. It’s become clear that our survival is integral to building our local community and culture, however, in order to make this opportunity accessible for everyone, we must be able to subsidies it; the deteriorating and ageing condition of our function space made this extremely difficult but we simply couldn’t come to terms with the withdrawal of the programme. We’re over the moon that both George F. White and the Rural Development Programme have recognised the importance of what we’re trying to do!”
In order to secure funding for the refurbishment, Chris, alongside fellow Berwick Rugby Club committee members, worked with our farm team, who took the project on pro-bono. Thanks to the teams hard work and determination, £47,698.74 was secured in March 2019, meaning that the club could move forward with the structural and design work required to achieve completion by the beginning of the 19/20 season, where the club will be competing in the National leagues once again.
Senior Rural Business Consultant at George F. White, Jamie Oliver, said: “It has been extremely rewarding to be able to support Berwick Rugby Club; their efforts in improving the opportunities for children in the area are remarkable and for this to have come to an end due to viability issues would have been terrible. The refurbishment will allow to club to further bolster their presence in the local community, becoming a hub for events and celebrations. Their success is a great example of how important rural development is to sustaining and future proofing our communities.”