ONE of the region’s best-known amateur cricket clubs has been given a major makeover.

Footpaths leading to Chester-le-Street Cricket Club’s ground have been repaired, a high net fence has been installed to protect the neighbouring primary school, along with new seats for spectators.

The club, which has been based at Ropery Lane since 1948, didn’t have the money available to carry out all the work in one go, but the Banks Community Fund stepped in with an £18,652 grant.

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The club runs four senior teams and has around 100 junior players representing a number of different age groups.

Club chairman Keith Robson said: “The uneven, potholed pathways around the ground had been worrying us for some time, and the safety risk they posed to both players and spectators had become a serious concern.

“The netting was in a similarly poor state, and the bucket seats, which was already second-hand when we inherited it, weren’t comfortable enough for spectators to use for any length of time.

“The improvements we’ve made have made the ground a lot safer for players, spectators and neighbours, and a lot better looking as well, and they’ve been very well received by everyone”.

He added: “There are always plenty of things to spend money on when you’re running a community sports club like ours.

“We knew we didn’t have the money in the bank to get everything done at once until The Banks Group came forward, and their generous support will make a big, long-term difference to the facilities we can offer to players and spectators alike.”

Jem Road Construction of Burnopfield has tarmaced all the surfaces around the ground and has also sealed an open gravel drain at the bottom of the field which was viewed as posing a health and safety risk.

Specialised high net fences have been installed by a team of volunteers to protect both the school and the club car park from aerial shots, while innovative bench seating manufactured from recycled plastic bottles by Stanley-based Marmax Recycled Products has also been fitted.

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The Cricket Club is one of the mainstays of community life in Chester-le-Street, and we’re very glad to be able to help such a worthwhile organisation in our home county.

“It’s also especially good news for the area that local firms have been able to carry out the required work on its behalf, and their input has made the ground look terrific.”