Staff and pupils gathered at Raynes Park High School last week (Friday 15 July) to witness Mayor of Merton, Councillor Gilli Lewis-Lavender launch the building works for the new Memorial Sports Ground.
Named in memory of the Raynes Park High School pupils killed in action during World War II, the ground will offer brand new sports facilities within a short walking distance for pupils at Raynes Park High School and also children at Sacred Heart Primary School and West Wimbledon Primary School.
The building project covers 4.3 hectares and includes four grass football and cricket pitches for seniors and juniors, and a grass athletics area for javelin, discus, shotput, triple jump and a running track. The site houses a four-team changing pavilion, with two extra changing rooms for officials, a social room which can be used as a flexible teaching space, a kitchen, toilets and storage cupboards. There will be ample room for spectators as well as covered cycle racks and an eight-space car park with reserved disabled parking.
The Football Foundation has contributed £339,364 to help fund the project. Additional funding comes from the council leasing Raynes Park High School’s current playing field. Proceeds from sponsored walks, summer fairs and raffles organised by the three schools and the local community have also helped finance the development of the new playing fields and facilities.
Other financial support came from the London Marathon Trust (£150,000), Raynes Park Former Pupils’ Society (£40,000), Garfield Weston Foundation (£15,000), F&C investments (£50,000) and Tesco New Malden (£5,000).
Scheduled to open before the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the sports ground will be used by the whole community with an official opening set for September 2012.
At present, the pupils of Raynes Park High School have to use playing fields that are a 30-minute walk from the school site. West Wimbledon and Sacred Heart Primary Schools currently do not have access to a playing field. The new, larger playing fields will be 300 metres from the Raynes Park High School, increasing sports provision to three schools.
Mayor, Councillor Gilli Lewis-Lavender said: “There are some great projects taking shape in Merton which encourage residents to exercise and live healthy lifestyles. It’s important for children to be able to use good sports facilities in their schools to help them keep active. I look forward to seeing the new Memorial Sports Ground being used fully next year.”
Cabinet member for education, Councillor Peter Walker said: “I am delighted that this innovative solution has been found which benefits the children of three local schools. I particularly wish to commend the Head, students and others in Raynes Park High School who worked tirelessly to raise the amount necessary to ensure their vision will now become a reality. Merton Council is committed to ensuring that all our children have access to excellent playing fields. This project is a great example of putting this into practice.’
Chief Executive of the Football Foundation Paul Thorogood said: ‘This funding is excellent news for Raynes Park High School and the local community. The Surrey FA deserve credit for their hard work in making this happen. This is the latest example of thousands of projects across the country that the Football Foundation is supporting with money provided by our funding partners the Premier League, The FA and Government.
‘Since the Foundation was set up in 2000 it has worked closely with the Surrey FA to support 189 grass roots sports projects across the county with grants worth £11.2m. These grants have attracted further partnership funding of £9.9m into the area’s grass roots.’
For more information call Nick Beesley at Raynes Park High School on 020 8879 4837.
Notes to editors:
The Football Foundation is the nation’s largest sports charity, funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government via Sport England. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 8,000 grants worth more than £420m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £520m.
The site of the new sporting facilities was previously known as the Royal Sun Alliance Sports Ground and is on Linkway, Fairway, Westway Close and Barnscroft.