A games area at a south east Northumberland leisure centre has been resurfaced and re-opened thanks to a five-figure grant from a north east employer.
When it opened in 2005, the facilities at The Northburn Sports and Leisure Centre in Cramlington included a mixed use games area (MUGA), but despite its popularity, it soon became apparent that the surface became slippy and unsafe whenever it got wet.
As a result, the area had to be closed for safety reasons, leading to frustration amongst its users, especially the junior and senior players from Cramlington United Football Club who trained at the venue.
They had to find alternatives locations out of their area for their training sessions as a result.
The centre management team were unable to find funding to replace the defective surface until Banks Mining, which operates the nearby Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines, stepped in with a £10,000 grant from its Community Fund.
As well as enabling the football club to move its training sessions back to Northburn, the new games area is now hosting a regular Friday night five-a-side football competition for players aged 15 and over.
It regularly attracts more than 30 players with a cost of £1 for each player taking part.
A disability sports session is held at the facility every Thursday, and it will also host a wide-ranging activity programme for local young people during the forthcoming school summer holidays.
Northburn Sports and Community Centre manager, Amy Foggett, said: “There’s nothing else like the centre in the area, which means that the facilities we offer are the only ones that are easily accessible for a lot of the local young people.
“Being able to see the MUGA but not being able to use it was extremely frustrating for everyone who wanted to be out there, and despite everyone’s best efforts, it looked unlikely that we’d be able to find the money we needed to resolve the problems with the surface.
“The money that Banks has provided is already making a huge difference to the sporting and social lives of everyone that uses the centre – the new MUGA is packed out as soon as the local schools finish for the day, and everyone absolutely loves the fact that they can get out there and use it again.
“It seemed like there was no way we were going to be able to find the money to get this work done, so everyone involved with the centre is especially grateful to Banks for the funding they’ve provided .”