A FIFA-standard third-generation (3G) pitch has been officially opened at Lymm High School by ex-Everton and Scotland international David Weir and ex-student Ellie Fletcher who currently plays for Blackburn Rovers.
The professional footballers were joined at the socially-distanced event by local football team representatives: Gavin Laidlaw from Lymm Rovers and Julia Johnson from Lymm Piranhas. Other invited attendees that also contributed towards the project included Kate Harrison from The Lane End Group, Kirsty James from Lymm High PTA, and Liz Green, Chair of Governors.
The Premier League, the FA and the Government’s Football Foundation awarded Lymm High a grant of over £500,000 to help it install the full-sized, floodlit pitch. The school and its supporters raised over £100,000.
Thanking all the fundraisers and the overwhelming community support, Headteacher Gwyn Williams, said he was delighted to be finally opening the state-of-the-art sports facility, which will be used by Lymm High students during the school day and the community of Lymm and its surrounding area during evenings and weekends. Lymm Rovers and Piranhas have already been using it for training and matches, and both organisations were thanked for their professionalism and kind donations towards reaching the £100,000 total.
However, the irony of opening the sporting facility the day before it is closed to the community because of the second Lockdown was not lost on Mr Williams.
“We are thrilled to be officially opening the pitch after what seems like years of planning”, he said, “but it seems rather poignant to be closing it to the community from tomorrow as a result of the latest lockdown. On the other hand, perhaps this just serves to underline the fact that this is a facility that will serve the community for many years to come – long after any lockdown has passed.”
The date was also significant as it marked three years to the day since Lymm High staff took part in a sponsored climb of Mount Snowdon to help raise funds for the school’s ‘Pitch In’ initiative. Other activities included summer fairs, PTA events, school balls, whole-school Santa dashes and the annual Founders’ Day activities. Students also held and organised a number of events in school, competing within their Halls to raise funds. There were also a number of dinners, raffles and prize draws, and Mr Williams thanked local businesses for all their support in donating items. Local contracting developers The Lane End Group were the initiative’s major corporate sponsor.
“Today is all about thanking those organisations, businesses and individuals that helped us reach our goal. Obviously, we are very grateful to the Premier League, the FA and the Government’s Football Foundation for the grant, without which this wouldn’t have been possible, but we could not have achieved this without the generous and continued support of parents and the wider Lymm community either”, said Mr Williams. “We always knew the bid was a very strong one, built as it was on the strong reputation of our own PE department but also that of Lymm Rovers and Lymm Piranhas junior football clubs – both very well-run clubs with large numbers of boys and girls taking part on a regular basis. Lots of people in school have done lots of work to make this happen but I particularly want to thank Patrick Hendrie and Helena Headon. It’s still been a long, and sometimes difficult, process, but we are so pleased to be opening our 3G pitch at last and are incredibly grateful to everyone for their support.”
Picture shows David Weir opening Lymm High’s 3G Pitch surrounded by Kirsty James, Gwyn Williams and Kate Harrison. Gavin Laidlaw from Lymm Rovers and Julia Johnson from Lymm Piranhas are holding the ribbon.