Current Great Britain and England hockey player Shona McCallin MBE joined a junior training session at the new Magnus Church of England Academy hockey pitches to inspire the next generation of hockey Olympians.
Shona, who is an ex-Newark junior player, then cut the ribbon to officially open the new hockey pitches which also had a smaller launch event in September.
The new pitches will secure Newark Hockey Club’s long-term future at the site, its home for the last 20 years.
The new facility for the academy students and the wider sporting community will also enable Newark Hockey Club to deliver its development plans to increase hockey opportunities locally and further enhance the club’s well established reputation in the local community and grow its membership base.
Shona McCallin MBE, said: "Being here today brings back a lot of fond memories, I used to come here when I was eight or nine years old. It is great to see hockey so strong in a town the size of Newark, I am proud to cut the ribbon today.
"I am hoping this facility will inspire the next generation of young kids to achieve their best."
Newark and Sherwood District Council provided the initial funding to upgrade the pitch, which will be paid back by Magnus from the leasing fees through a community use agreement. In addition to the pitch upgrade, Newark and Sherwood District Council will continue to work with its partners to ensure that the pitch continues to be one of the best hockey pitches in the East Midlands.
Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “The District Council is committed to investing in sport and leisure projects that will enable significant benefits to the local community and increase access to great facilities. These projects will deliver social, health and wellbeing benefits to residents of our communities. The Magnus Hockey pitch refurbishment is a firm commitment to improving our community leisure facilities.
“Newark and Sherwood is becoming an even greater area to participate in sport with further opportunities at the new YMCA Community and Activity Village that opened in July, as well as the many Active4Today sites across the district in Southwell, Newark, Blidworth and Dukeries - which also had a £3m five-lane pool installed last year.”
The original artificial turf surface, installed in 2001, and its underlying shock pad has been replaced and base repairs undertaken. New LED lighting has been installed to the existing lighting columns to improve visibility and reduce operating costs. The project also includes the replacement of the existing goals and the addition of team shelters/dug outs for the teams playing at the site.
As well as the District Council financing the project it will also take a lead in the operational management of the pitch by agreement with Magnus through its leisure management company, Active4Today, for a period of 15 years and bookings for use can be made through its existing online booking system.
Andy Carolan, Managing Director of Active4Today, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Magnus to ensure the new facility will be well utilised by the sporting community of Newark and contribute to the collective challenge of getting more people more active more often.”
The refurbishment is one of the District Council’s initiatives to contribute towards its Community Plan Objective of ‘improving the health and wellbeing of local residents’, with the intention that the improved pitch will encourage greater participation in sport and recreational activities within the local community, particularly hockey and football.
Arran Coggan, Chair of Newark Hockey Club, said: "We are delighted to see the pitch refurbished and thank the school and Council for their positive outlooks in making this happen.
“Being over 15 years old the current pitch can be detrimental to safe hockey. Over 180 players from 5 to 60+ years old play hockey weekly throughout the year and the new pitch is enabling to us to provide a safe and secure home for everyone”.
Anna Martin, Executive Head at the Magnus Academy, said: “We are thrilled to have secured a great investment for our academy and students, the partnership working with Newark and Sherwood District Council, Newark Hockey and Active4Today has enabled us to secure an asset for the whole community.”
Article and photographs courtesy of Newark & Sherwood District Council.