Sports club in race against time to secure cash for £550k clubhouse project

Crusaders Rugby Club, based in Little Melton, near Norwich, is raising funds for a project to update its clubhouse and...

Crusaders Rugby Club, based in Little Melton, near Norwich, is raising funds for a project to update its clubhouse and facilities. - Credit: Crusaders Rugby Club

A project to bring a community sports club into the 21st century has a large funding gap after the impact of Covid-19 saw fundraising grind to a halt.

Crusaders Rugby Club, based in Little Melton, near Norwich, is a non-profit organisation with around 300 playing members after a period of rapid growth in the last decade.

To support the steps taken by the club's leadership to promote diversity and inclusivity, a plan was hatched to redevelop its outdated facilities to make them fit for purpose in the club's modern-day state.

Crusaders Rugby Club on Little Melton Road in Hethersett. Picture: Danielle Booden

Crusaders Rugby Club, based in Little Melton, near Norwich, is fundraising to pay for the development of its clubhouse, which was build in the 1980s but is no longer fit for purpose. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Planning permission had been secured, along with much of the funding, but their plans have been hit significantly by the pandemic.

The Greater Norwich Growth Board, Sport England and the Geoffrey Watling Trust are among those who have committed funds, but the RFU had to retract its pledged amount.

A total of £310,000 in grants remains secure, but now work needs to be done to make up the rest of the estimated £550k + VAT it will cost.

The architect's proposals for what the new clubhouse will look like.

The architect's proposals for what the new clubhouse will look like. - Credit: Supplied by Crusaders Rugby Club

At the head of the campaign is Peter Blinkhorn, a player and a youth coach at the club.

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He said: "The current clubhouse was built in the '80s for what was then a male, adult game.

"Of course since then, sporting opportunities have changed significantly, but we now find ourselves in a position where the club doesn't offer a suitable changing proposition for the wider user group.

"We've seen a huge growth in the kids setup, and we now have a full system from u4s to u18s, a men's team, a ladies' team and a vets' side. We try to cover inclusivity for all those users, but our facilities are letting us down."

Crusaders Rugby Club on Little Melton Road in Hethersett. Picture: Danielle Booden

Crusaders Rugby Club, based in Little Melton, near Norwich, is fundraising to pay for the development of its clubhouse, which was build in the 1980s but is no longer fit for purpose. - Credit: Danielle Booden

As part of the planning approval, work must begin on the new clubhouse by June 2021.

The club hopes to plug the funding gap by then to secure the project and begin in its 60th year.

Catherine Rix, of the development committee, said: "We thought we would be able to get there but we've had the rug pulled out from under our feet.

Betram Group Headquarters and distribution facility, Broadland Business Park, Norwich.

Catherine Rix is part of the clubhouse development committee at Crusaders Rugby Club in Little Melton, near Norwich. - Credit: Steve Adams

"Our children are crying out to get back to sport and this development will help everyone to get back into the social sphere."

To find out more or to donate, visit: gogetfunding.com/join-the-crusadeers/.

Crusaders Rugby Club on Little Melton Road in Hethersett. Picture: Danielle Booden

Crusaders Rugby Club, based in Little Melton, near Norwich, is fundraising to pay for the development of its clubhouse, which was build in the 1980s but is no longer fit for purpose. - Credit: Danielle Booden


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