Smart new look for welfare centre

Pictured are Kevin Batson, trustee and committee member at Stobswood Miners' Welfare Recreation Centre, and Jeannie Kielty, community relations manager at The Banks Group.
Pictured are Kevin Batson, trustee and committee member at Stobswood Miners' Welfare Recreation Centre, and Jeannie Kielty, community relations manager at The Banks Group.

A community sports and activity facility in Northumberland is ready to welcome both old and new members after undergoing a ‘total transformation’.

A leaking roof at Stobswood Miners’ Welfare Recreation Centre had led to water damage to its walls, ceiling and carpets, while years of use had gradually taken its toll on the tables and chairs within the 54-year-old building.

After renewing the roof with the help of the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO) to prevent any further deterioration to the internal fixtures and fitting, the centre’s committee started a fund-raising campaign to bring in the money required to bring the building’s interior up to the required standard and buy new lighting, carpets, tables and chairs.

It secured a £9,500 Northumberland Community Chest grant, a £5,000 donation from regional employer The Banks Group’s Community Fund, £3,000 from CISWO and a further £2,000 donation from Northumberland county councillor Scott Dickinson’s Druridge Bay local ward fund to enable the project to go ahead.

Committee members Kevin Batson, Charles Wiggett and Kevin Jordan have carried out a considerable proportion of the work themselves, along with painter and decorator Ian Watson.

Lead contractor Craig Batson, with local electrician Dave Young, did the rewiring and fitted a new energy saving lighting system, while Hadston-based plasterers Eric and Gareth Patterson replastered the walls and ceiling.

An official opening event is now being planned to enable the centre to show off its new decor, which the committee hopes will help to attract more people to the facility.

Kevin Batson, who is also a centre trustee, said: “Without the generous contributions we’ve had towards this project, it would have remained well out of our reach and we would have had to carry out work on a piecemeal basis as and when we had the money, which would have been far from satisfactory for everyone.

“The improvements we’ve been able to make have totally transformed the place and it’s been especially good to be able to call on the skills of several of our members, who have contributed a huge amount to getting everything done so quickly.”

Stobswood Miners’ Welfare Recreation Centre was established in 1963 for the benefit of people living in and around the parish of Widdrington Station and Stobswood.

It and surrounding land provide a home for a number of community sports teams, including the local darts, pool, dominoes, football and cricket clubs, and it is also regularly used for children’s parties and other events.

The Banks Group also gave the centre a grant last year.

The £5,200 award covered the cost of a complete kitchen upgrade – which included new sinks, basins, worktops, ceramic hobs, a ventilation system, rewiring, redecoration, two new ovens, a new floor and new wall tiles.

Jeannie Kielty, community relations manager at The Banks Group, said: “This welfare centre is an invaluable community facility in an area where we’ve worked for well over three decades and we’re very pleased to have supported further improvements to the building that will enhance what it can offer local people.”

The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects.

Anyone interested in applying for funding can contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 3786342.