Work gets underway today (Monday 8 February) on a new pitch for Gillingham Anchorians Hockey Club after a huge campaign to raise £216,000. Contractors have started replacing the ageing all-weather surface at the club’s Darland Avenue site with the pitch due to be opened officially in May by Gillingham MP Rehman Chishti.
The considerable price-tag was reached in part with funding and support from Sport England which awarded £45,000, along with £49,000 from England Hockey and £25,000 from the National Hockey Foundation. The club raised a staggering £97,000 itself through members’ donations and loans, plus a huge fundraising campaign which encompassed Anchs’ family friendly ethos with events such as a Dawn to Dusk hockey match, 20 sponsored half-marathons by Club Captain Richard Brewer, auctions, fun runs and numerous social events. Work is expected to take several weeks, requiring the club to re-arrange some of its league fixtures, training sessions and junior matches, and find alternative temporary venues for the rest of this season.
Chairman Gary Jackson says: “Yes it’s been a headache for our fantastic fixture secretary Emma Strangleman in trying to sort out our four men’s sides and three ladies teams but it will be worth it and we know we’re very lucky to have such fantastic local and national support from our membership, other clubs and sporting organisations. “We’ve been playing hockey in Gillingham for 61 years and with the new astro – plus Clubs First accreditation awarded this season – we’re hoping to strengthen our links with the local schools to continue offering this great sport to future generations.” The club’s thriving junior section with over 60 youngsters will continue training each Sunday morning at Brompton Academy. The club welcomes new players of all ages and abilities and will be inviting schools and community groups to see and use its facilities when the new pitch is opened.