astro opening dinner - july 2009
The Story behind the Astro.
There are lots of people who have tried to get The Astro up and running through the last two decades, too many to name, but thanks must go to them for keeping the hope alive. Some cynics amongst us say it is two decades too late and they may have a point, but the optermists are looking at the future.
This story starts with Norman Sutton who pretty much single-handedly got our planning permission for it in May 2007. Tim Brooker took the baton and with a very small group, got the fund-raising started for this £500k project. A slow start that seemed impossible but was boosted by some internal fund raising a Badger bike ride raised over a £1000, followed by Pitch square scheme that had the potential to raise £100k.
On Saturday evening a dinner was held in our new state of the art clubhouse overlooking the cricket pitch and picturesque Parkgate, organised by Tim and Lizzie Weatherall.
Geoff Poole, David Jellicoe, Tony Brooker, Peter Crutchley, Chris Ashcroft, Dave Weston, Delia Heginbottom and Robbie Smith all received Lifetime Achievement Awards for all they have put into the club.
The four main people who have made the Astro Appeal happen, also received a Photo of the New Astro opening, David Knight, Tony Crisp, Norman Sutton and Tim Brooker.
During coffee the Chairman of Hockey at NSW, Eddie Byrnes, gave us the benefit of his hockey experiences and wisdom over his years in the game. Bobby Crutchley followed with his England Hockey experiences as Manager of the U21 Squad. Finally Rich Beswick gave us an excellent insight into life on the road of a National League player and gave us a glimpse of what went on back in the mid eighties! A lot to take in for a young player starting out, so much so James Knight looked half asleep at the end of the evening!
We then got a fantastic lump sum of over £150k from a generous benefactor and in Nov 2008 a lottery funded organisation called the National Sports Foundation matched what we had raised. It all seems easy now but their were moments when we thought the planning application maybe out of date before we had raised enough. Thankfully building started in late 2008 and was finished in time for the summer opening ceremony of July 2009.
Ironically during all this time, plans for a new Clubhouse came about from the Cricket Club. It all kicked off at the same time with club borrowing a similar figure from the bank. You wait for just one bus to come and two come along at the same time. It was a bomb site for nine months or so but it is so worth it. We can now boast of, a state of the art Astro and Clubhouse to boot