Gillingham Anchorians Hockey Club is celebrating a fantastic win with Sport England after the national body awarded it £45,000 towards its bid for a vital new astro-turf pitch. The huge funding grant means it is now within reach of the money needed to replace the ageing all-weather surface at its Gillingham-based site and a great boost towards the club’s future. Chairman Gary Jackson says the whole club is delighted: “We have a thriving junior section with over 80 youngsters and this complements a senior contingent of four men’s teams and three ladies sides in action every week. We offer a fun and friendly family atmosphere with lots of support from parents, local schools and former players – leading us to recently celebrate our 60th season. “However, our future was looking a little uncertain if we couldn’t replace the pitch which is now more than 10 years old but with the fantastic support of Sport England and other valuable contributors, we can continue offering hockey to the communities of Gillingham and Rainham for many years to come.”
Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “The Inspired Facilities Fund has had a huge impact on grassroots sport across the country. Since 2011, we’ve invested £102 million into more than 1,920 projects to improve and refurbish sports clubs and transform non-sporting venues into vibrant community sports clubs. “It’s great to see Gillingham Anchorians Hockey Club join the long list of successful clubs to benefit from this fund.” The club, based at Darland Avenue as part of the Anchorians Sports Association, has raised £75,000 itself and also received funding earlier this year of £75,000 from England Hockey and the National Hockey Foundation. There is still some work to be done as the club may still have a shortfall to replace the surface by the end of the 2015/16 season.
Member of Parliament for Gillingham and Rainham, Rehman Chishti, congratulated the club, saying: “I’m delighted that the Anchorians bid for funding was successful. As the local MP I supported their bid to Sport England. It’s a fantastic local club which has continued to provide excellent sporting opportunities at the heart of the local community over the past sixty years. With everyone’s support the Club will soon be able to benefit from a new all-weather surface.” Gary Jackson added: “Further fundraising events are planned over the next couple of months and we are appealing to all former players and supporters to lend a hand. Potential sponsors would find our club a great place to advertise as we are also home to a number of football, rugby and other sports and fitness clubs. “And we hope this widespread support will also encourage others to take up hockey; we are always welcoming to new players of all ages and abilities”.