Farnham Cricket Club have launched an ambitious fundraising campaign to find the final instalments in a £400,000 plan to build a new clubhouse.
The historic club is one of the oldest in England, having been founded in 1782, and one of their first fixtures was against the famous Hambledon side back in the 18th century.
Their ground at Folly Hill nestles below Farnham Castle – although some visitors may be forgiven for believing the clubhouse dates from the same era.
While licks of paints and refurbishments have done their best, the club’s headquarters remain dated and in dire need of work.
Instead of painting over the cracks, the club decided to start again – but the timing could not have been worse, as the campaign to pay for the work coincided with the Covid pandemic.
Dy Gunasekara, the club’s junior chairman, is leading the campaign and said: “The pavilion and cricket facilities desperately need investment and we need the Farnham Cricket Club community and the local community to help us.
“Waverley Borough Council granted us a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) of £150,000 towards the cost, but we have to use it by October or we lose it.
“A big push is needed and I hope our fundraising events will persuade Waverley to extend the deadline to give us more time to raise the money required.
“The timing of the campaign could not have been worse. Lockdowns meant we could not hold any events to raise money, and we lost out with no membership fees and no income from the bar and clubhouse.
“We are having to start again – although we have made a good start. We have the Waverley grant and the England Cricket Board (ECB) have also offered us £50,000, and we have a similar amount of our own money to put into it.
“We are left with about £180,000 to raise. If you say it quickly it sounds okay, but it is an awful lot of money.
“We will be looking where we may access other grants and hopefully get some sponsorship, but will be holding our own events too.
“We held a fundraising launch event at the club last week to bring everyone together to support us. The response has been terrific. One man told us he was sorry he couldn’t attend but to invoice his firm for £1,000 towards the total.
“That was tremendous – all we need now is another 179,000 people like him!
“We have such ambitious plans for the club – we want to involve the Hale community in our club, to hold events on the recreation ground there, and to offer them the use of our facilities.
“Our vision is we should have one club, where players can start in the under-eights, progress through the age groups, into the third team, then the seconds and, hopefully, the first team.
“We need the right facilities to do that.
“And the new clubhouse will be good enough to be able to invite private groups to hire our facilities which would be a moneyspinner for our club and help us achieve our goals.
“We have a big junior section and the club is very friendly and welcoming – and I sometimes think the friendliness here helps paper over a lot of things.
“Sometimes I wonder what new parents think when they come to the club for the first team and see the tiles, that look like polystyrene, and then use the toilets... we have to make sure we give people facilities that are suitable and can help the club grow.”