Fire-hit club’s comeback joy

The club house gutted by fire
The club house gutted by fire

WORK is to begin on rebuilding a rugby clubhouse more than a year after it was destroyed in a fire.

More than half of Ashton Bears ARLFC’s old clubhouse in Low Bank Road was either destroyed or rendered unsafe by the blaze, which broke out in the early hours of February 9 last year.

Members of Ashton Bears FC

Members of Ashton Bears FC

The bill for damage, caused by an electrical fault in the lighting, was estimated to be between £50,000 and £100,000 and ruined months of hard work that had gone into refurbishing the site.

As a result, the community club, which fields teams across a number of age groups as well as a ladies touch rugby team, immediately set about raising funds towards reconstructing the base.

The target was reached thanks to a series of club-run fun days, music evenings and a wide range of sponsored events, which added £20,000 in total to the pot.

These efforts were bolstered by a £50,000 grant provided by Cory Environmental Trust in Britain (CETB).

Wigan Council granted the club permission to rebuild the clubhouse, which includes a function suite for 70 people, a kitchenette and serving area and new toilets earlier this month.

Work is expected to begin next month.

Bears’ treasurer Denise Melling said: “We are thrilled to have gained both the funding and permission required to begin rebuilding the clubhouse.

“The new clubhouse facilities will enable us to continue to provide sporting opportunities for local children and adults and encourage increased participation in the community. We would like to thank everyone who took part in or sponsored one of our fund-raising activities and CETB for its generous grant.”

Angela Haymonds, CETB secretary, said: “The CETB trustees are delighted to be able to support this project, which will once again provide the club with an accessible and welcoming sports facility for the whole community to use.

“This new clubhouse will enable Ashton Bears to increase its number of teams, encouraging a healthier lifestyle for children, young people and families.”

CETB funding is available for a wide range of projects that bring benefit to local communities. This may include refurbishment of churches or buildings of architectural or historical significance, or general amenity projects, such as improving disabled access or improvements to parks.