Essex members living in Southend are playing a major role in a transformation of Garon

Park that has begun to take place over the winter.

Some 1500 lorry loads of earth and rubble from nearby building works were delivered to the site in the autumn to create a new mezzanine spectator facility around the ground. This area is currently being re-seeded. A new storage space for ground equipment is under construction at the end opposite the pavilion and an electronic scoreboard has been ordered to attach to this new structure.

The poor winter weather has caused some delays but it is hoped this will be completed well ahead of August's Essex AutoGroup Southend Cricket Festival.

The next stage of the project is a plan to plant some 1000 trees and hedge plants inside the perimeter fence which separates the cricket ground from adjacent facilities. An irrigation system is being installed and we expect to revive most of the oak trees planted a few years ago.

This project is now well underway thanks to the magnificent support of three long-term Southendbased members. Mike Bradley, who lives in Leigh and runs Claremont Nurseries at Woodham Mortimer in Maldon, has generously arranged for the nursery to donate all the trees and plants for the project free of charge. At the time of writing he is personally supervising the planting of a laurel hedge round the new outdoor nets and behind the pavilion. In January he provided over 100 fast-growing poplar lombardy trees. These were all planted by Great Wakering farmers and Essex cricket lovers Pendril and Arthur Bentall. Further planting will take place next winter.

"I would like to publicly thank these three for their tremendous help and support," says Peter Butler, Chairman of the Essex AutoGroup Southend Cricket Festival. “This is typical of the nthusiasm in the Southend area to create a Centre of Cricketing Excellence in south Essex and continue the tradition of county cricket visiting the town, which has been  going on since 1906." "The County's financial support for this project is very limited, as resources need to be conserved for the Ground Development Project at Chelmsford, but thanks to the success of our fund-raising appeal to the public in Southend, and the generous contributions from the Norman Garon Trust and Essex & Southend Sports Trust, we are able to make steady progress. We always thought this would be a ten-year project. The 2009 Festival will be the fifth at Garon Park, so we are getting there."

”Every festival at Garon Park to date has generated a profit for the county club but with the current financial crisis we are going to have to work really hard in 2009 and hope members will help us rally support.”