Neglected sports area in Hingham to become tennis courts after £75,000 cash boost - can you help?

A new tennis club will be set up at Hingham Sports Centre after fundraising means refurbushment of t

A new tennis club will be set up at Hingham Sports Centre after fundraising means refurbushment of the old courts can go ahead.l-r Emily Cary, Lindsey read, Cllr Daisy Thomas and Simon Underhill with Elodie Read in front. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

A rundown sports area will be turned into tennis courts after a £75,000 cash injection accelerated a project to rejuvenate it.

A new tennis club will be set up at Hingham Sports Centre after fundraising means refurbushment of t

A new tennis club will be set up at Hingham Sports Centre after fundraising means refurbushment of the old courts can go ahead.l-r Emily Cary, Lindsey read, Cllr Daisy Thomas and Simon Underhill with Elodie Read in front. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

In 2014, Hingham residents Emily Cary, Lindsey Read and Simon Underhill spotted the dilapidated space next to the town's sports hall and approached the Hingham Playing Fields Association (HPFA), who own the land, to see whether it could undergo a revamp.

Since then, Hingham Tennis and the HPFA have rallied local support and applied to trusts, charities and funding bodies for the cash to renovate the court, install floodlights and launch a club for new members.

And as last year came to a close, they discovered that Sport England had agreed to contribute £75,000 through an Inspired Facilities fund.

Mrs Cary said they were 'thrilled' at the news and said: 'This national award has meant our project is well and truly off the ground, providing Hingham, and this corner of south Norfolk, with a state of the art tennis facility and club.' Work on the site is due to begin in March, with hopes that the courts and club, on Watton Road, will be opened early in the summer.

But with £8,000 to fund before the target is hit, the group have set up a crowdfunding page for well-wishers to donate. To get involved, visit www.chuffed.org/project/hingham-tennis

A team of volunteers helped organise the scheme and apply for planning permission to modernise the floodlighting.

Mrs Read said: 'We are so grateful for all the local support we've had – from members of the community, the town and district councils and from local charities and foundations who have seen the potential in what we're trying to achieve. Everyone's support has been a huge driver, encouraging us to strive for an amazing facility.'

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And Mr Underhill said the club has already caught the attention of tennis lovers around the area.

'Our coach, Sam Howlett, has begun mini tennis lessons for reception to year three school children in the HPFA sports hall on Thursdays,' he said. 'The children are having a whale of a time.'

A planning application has now been submitted to South Norfolk Council to build a single-storey tennis hut, the clubhouse, on the land.

The sports ground had a tennis club as an original signatory when the HPFA was set up in 1982, according to Alison Lys, from the association.

She said it was brilliant news that there would be 'a new generation of tennis players with the energy and commitment to bring organised tennis back to Hingham'.

The trio thanked South Norfolk Council, Hingham Town Council, HPFA, Love Norfolk Fund, Saracen's Norfolk Fund, Geoffrey Watling Charity and The Wayland Agricultural Society for their support.

If you are interested in getting involved, visit www.hinghamtennis.co.uk or email hinghamtennis@gmail.com

Do you have a Hingham story? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk