Caption: Chris Pratt, Solomons Europe's North East Regional Associate
Caption: Hunwick Cricket Club today
Caption: Plans for the revamp of the club's social area and kitchen
When he isn’t busy in his role as North East Associate at Solomons Europe, Chris Pratt is spending his spare time helping his village achieve a long-held ambition.
Here he explains his involvement in an exciting project to develop Hunwick Cricket Club (CC) and, at the same time, create a new community hub for all to enjoy.
I’ve always been passionate about getting involved in the communities in which I’ve lived. People, after all, are the beating heart of a place. When they come together, they have so much power to change lives for the better.
A few years ago, I had the chance to combine this with another passion of mine, cricket.
Hunwick CC has been at the centre of the village community for decades. I’ve played for the club since I was six years old, so I’ve seen quite a few changes in my time. Helping with this amazing project was the right thing to do at the right time for the club!
We moved to our current ground in a rush back in 1996 when an oil tank leak put our previous ground out of use.
The old wooden school building we occupied at our new home had, to be polite, seen better days! It also suffered vandalism not long after we took ownership. Over the years it became clear it wasn’t really fit for purpose. It doesn’t have any heating or hot water. The social and kitchen areas get very cold on cold days!
During this time, the village also lost its community centre. People at the club and throughout the village started to think big. By bringing the clubhouse up to a better standard – particularly in light of the need for social distancing due to coronavirus – we could also create a new community hub.
I first got involved a few years back to help with the fundraising effort.
An architect based in the village assisted with the design, drawings and planning application free of charge.
Volunteers tendered the project competitively. I helped to pull together the document, tender analysis and communication with bidders drawing on my experience as a Quantity Surveyor.
It has been a real team effort by so many people.
We’ve also raised a large chunk of the money needed for these fantastic new facilities. Our latest push through Aviva Crowdfunder UK will help us get over the line.
We’ve not long passed our initial £5,000 target. Me and everyone involved is hugely grateful for the corporate donation made by Kerry and Dom at Solomons. It’s further proof if needed of their, and Solomons’ commitment to social impact.
At the time of writing this, we’re tantalisingly close to reaching our stretched target of £7,500 – we’re just a few pounds shy of £6,000!
All being well our chosen contractor will start work in August or September. I would be brilliant for everyone involved to see the first spade go into the ground.
The journey has, quite honestly, been “backs to the wall” at times! But it has been more than worth it. It has galvanised people of all ages in the village. The excitement is really building. We’re about to achieve something that will leave a legacy for our community for many years to come!
Help Chris and Hunwick CCC smash their crowdfunding target out the park! Learn more about the project and donate to this fantastic cause by clicking here.