Builders have begun to formally convert a barn on Hawes Community Fields to community use.
Funds have also been raised for a range of other sports or recreational facilities, including making the ‘big field’ big enough for a football pitch, the creation of a new ‘match hatch’ kitchen and the installation of a safe and welcoming pedestrian entrance.
A gift of £50,000 from retired British Army Lieutenant Colonel John Walker has made the project possible, with his donation being matched by Richmondshire District Council’s Community Investment Fund. Hawes United Juniors Football Club has also raised £5000 for the project.
The barn, which will include toilets, two rooms, and an enlarged lean-to for storage of kit, will be named the Johnny Walker Laithe, in honour of Mr Walker’s father, who ran Hawes Chippie.
John Walker, who grew up in the town before leaving to join the army aged 16, said: “I’m making this donation in memory of my father, Johnny Walker. I would like the kids to have the same outdoor freedom as we had when we were kids. I want them to have somewhere where they can come and have fresh air and exercise.”
The project is being managed by the Upper Wensleydale Sports and Recreational Association (UWSRA), the charity which was set up in 1997 to take ownership of the fields on behalf of the community.
UWSRA’s chairman, Gordon Sleightholm, said: “Everything has come together nicely and we are hoping that the Johnny Walker Laithe will be ready to open in spring next year. Everybody who uses the fields will benefit, from the football clubs to the events such as the music festivals.”
UWSRA trustees voted unanimously to appoint Hawes-based GTEC Construction Ltd to do the job, after receiving a detailed and competitive tender.
Griff Thomas, from GTEC Construction Ltd, said: “We are delighted to be appointed as contractors for this local community project and really look forward to making a difference.”