MEMBERS of a bowling club say they are "in shock" after securing a staggering £48,000 grant just 12 months after staring closure in the face.

A year ago, Northallerton Bowling Club considered whether it would have to close as, with its finances in difficulty, its future looked bleak. Members managed to put the club back on a firm financial footing through fundraising, sponsorship and digging into their own pockets to pay an extra £50 lump sum to the club on top of their regular subs.

Now the club has been told that a bid for Sport England Inspired Facilities funding has been successful. The club will receive £47,700; securing its future for many years to come.

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Chairwoman Val Coe said: “It’s absolutely mind-blowing; a lot of our members are still in shock. We thought our plans were a bit pie in the sky; they’re not now. We really can do all those things.

“It’s taken a lot to sink in; it’s such a legacy for the future.”

The money will be used for various repairs and improved facilities, but it will also allow them to put ambitious plans into practice to encourage more people into the sport, including children, youth groups and families.

An open weekend is planned to take place on Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27, where people can try their hand at bowls or have a look around the club house. People can also join as social members if they don’t wish to take part regularly in bowls.

Mrs Coe said she wanted to capitalise on the interest in curling at the recent Winter Olympics, a sport which employs similar skills and rules to bowling.

The money will also be used to fund specialist repairs of the banks surrounding the bowling green, replace parts of the irrigation system, install solar panels and replace the kitchen.

The grant is part of the 2012 Olympic Legacy funding and Mrs Coe said she hoped their successful bid would encourage other sports clubs in the North-East and North Yorkshire to apply.

“We were optimistic, but we never really, in our wildest dreams expected to get the full amount we applied for,” she said.

“We have something here in the North as a result. We shouldn’t think everything that happens in the south doesn’t have an impact here. Now we have part of the Olympic legacy which we can carry forward.”

The open day will run between 10.30am and 4pm. For further information contact club secretary Barbara Wallace on 01609-777205.