Garon Park Centre of
Swings into action
There has been
significant progress in establishing a Centre of Cricketing
Excellence at Garon Park, Southend since the project was launched
two years ago. The aim is to encourage cricket development and
coaching from grass roots to county level for schoolboys,
schoolgirls and club cricketers and for Garon Park to be the South
East Essex home ground for representative, inter and intra district
games. The first such games were played in 2006 and around 30 are
scheduled for 2007 including two Essex second X1 fixtures.
To provide a top quality
cricket facility for all regional developmental and excellence
cricket in the South East Essex area as well as a venue for first
Over 600,000 people live
in South East Essex in Southend, Rochford, Castle Point, Basildon
and Thurrock; that is nearly 40% of the population in the whole
county. Southend is the most densely populated region in the county.
And most important the existing Garon Park infrastructure means we
do not have the delays and financial hurdles of setting up a
completely new green field site.
What is Garon Park?
The Garon Park site is a
joint venture between the Norman Garon Trust and Southend Borough
Council. It is approximately 35 hectares in size and accommodates a
golf complex, a comprehensive leisure centre built in the 1990s, an
athletics stadium, a golf centre as well as a county size cricket
arena with ample on site parking and room for development. Until
2005 the cricketing facilities had been largely neglected but the
outfield has one of the best drainage systems in the county and the
facility has ample parking to accommodate large crowds. The overall
site has the potential to become a local centre of excellence for a
whole range of sports including cricket, football, golf and tennis.
The Norman Garon Trust and Southend Borough Council are committed to
support the new cricketing centre and have generously made available
the cricket arena and surrounding area to the Essex Cricket Board
for the development of local cricket.
Who will run the Centre?
All recreational and
developmental cricket activity in Essex is channelled via the Essex
County Cricket Board (ECCB) which operates through five regional
district boards. Garon Park will become the cricketing centre for
the South Essex District Cricket Board which is the regional board
for Southend, Rochford, Castle Point, Basildon and Thurrock.
What about finance?
The public appeal
launched by the Essex & Southend Sports Trust (EASST) in 2005 has so
far raised around £130,000 towards its goal of developing a
Cricketing Centre of Excellence for the whole of south Essex at
Garon Park. The sports charity has matched pound for pound all
donations received from the public and has made grants of £30,000 in
both 2006 and 2007 out of the appeal’s funds towards the costs of
the centre. This has enabled Essex to recruit a full time groundsman
– Phil Burton – to work on the facility and has also contributed to
adding six more performance cricket wickets to the square. This was
carried out last September and means the square at Garon Park is now
similar in size to the square at Chelmsford.
will change in the next year or so?
The Essex County Cricket
Board has agreed a ten year lease with the Norman Garon Trust, which
owns the facility. EASST and the Norman Garon Trust have made
capital commitments to provide permanent perimeter and boundary
fencing and outdoor cricket nets. We hope the nets will be ready for
the 2008 season and be available to clubs and schools in the South
Essex area as well as by the professionals during the annual Essex
Ford Southend Cricket Festival. Our next project is to raise finance
for a new scoreboard.
What about the longer
Feasibility studies are
underway on a number of larger capital projects including an indoor
cricket school, extra toilet facilities and permanent seating.
Funding would be required from bodies such as Thames Gateway and
other government funded organisations.
How can you help?
The public appeal’s
target is to raise £200,000 towards immediate operational
requirements so further patrons and donations are required. Anyone
interested in helping the cause should phone trustees Joe Sims
(01245 471674) or Peter Butler (01245 360385). Alternatively just
send a cheque made out to Essex & Southend Sports Trust to the Ford
County Ground at Chelmsford. Please make sure you enclose a note
with your cheque to confirm that you wish the donation to be made
under the Gift Aid Rules. This will allow the Trust to recover £22
from the Inland Revenue for every £78 donated.
A special thanks to the
27 patrons who have each contributed £1,500 over a five year period
towards the appeal. This works out to just £25 a month for those who
have signed a monthly standing order for five years. Others are
contributing £300 a year whilst some have paid the full £1,500 up
front. Many others have made one off donations from £25 to £1,000.