VILLAGERS hope to raise tens of thousands of pounds to breath new life into a rundown sports facility.

Residents of Hamsterley have formed a voluntary group to work with Hamsterley Parish Council to have the old tennis courts refurbished.

The two tennis courts at the top of the village opened in the early 1970s and players used to pay a membership fee to use them. But in recent years the condition of the site has decline and it is now in urgent need of repairs or a complete upgrade.

Residents met last month and game up with a vision for its transformation which would include resurfacing, a new boundary fence and games equipment installed.

Steph Maughan, a founder member of the group and a mother of one who lives in the village, said: "At first we thought we'd aim for a multi-use games area (MUGA) but after speaking to a few people we think a facility with half concrete, half hard rubber surface where people could play tennis, netball, basketball, five-a-side football and maybe hockey and rounders would be better– it would be a good bit cheaper than the £70,000 estimate for a MUGA and easier to maintain."

The group plans to raise money towards the project and the parish council, which owns the site, has agreed to maintain the site after the refurbishment is complete with the club's ongoing support.

Mrs Maughan said: "We hope to run sports days and plan fundraising events and would to think it is at least taking shape next summer.

"We have a couple of people who are involved with coaching tennis who say they can tap into funds to run short coaching courses.

"And there are a lot of people, including young families, in the area who would like to make use of the facility."

She said that whilst there are some people who still use the tennis courts the club feels a new facility would make an important contribution to village life, community wellbeing and bring people together to socialise and keep fit and healthy.

To get involved visit Hamsterley Community Sports Association's Facebook page.