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A Harrogate community football club’s dream of having a permanent home of its own is set to become reality after it reached its £99,000 project fundraising target.

After playing their matches at a wide range of grounds around the area for several decades, Pannal Ash Junior Football Club obtained a 30 year lease from Harrogate Borough Council on a piece of land at Almsford that had been left in trust to the town by ICI.

The club, which has more than 330 registered players aged between four and 16 years old, carried out an initial fundraising campaign to bring in the money required to first develop a usable pitch on the site before turning its attention towards building permanent changing facilities.

Two community events were held as part of the fundraising campaign, including a fun day that attracted over 1,500 people, and practical and financial support has been provided by a wide range of local residents, businesses and other organisations.

A £4,922 grant from property and energy firm The Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund took the club past its fundraising target and work is now well under way on the new pavilion, with a celebration event being planned for when it opens in the autumn.

The pavilion will be available for use by the wider community, including organisations such as local residents’ groups, the local  allotment  society and any other groups that need a good quality meeting room.

Pannal Ash Junior Football Club runs 24 teams across different age groups with the help of more than 70 volunteers and has been particularly successful in encouraging local girls to start playing, with more than 30 female players now on its books.

Club volunteer Kathryn Scott says: “Our Club is about far more than simply playing football – it helps hundreds of local kids learn more about things like fitness, discipline and teamwork, and helps them develop as people as well as players.

“Getting our own ground was a real landmark in the club’s history, but the old Nissan hut that was serving it as a changing room wasn’t anywhere near fit for purpose and soon had to be demolished.

“Offering our players the best possible facilities was the obvious next stage in the ground’s development, and as well as fulfilling our own need, we knew this would help meet the real demand that we know there is from other local clubs for access to pitches like ours.

“We’ve had fantastic community backing for this project, with support from businesses like The Banks Group helping us reach our fundraising target far sooner than would otherwise have been possible, and we’re so excited to see our new pavilion taking shape before our eyes.

“The new pavilion will be open for use by the wider community and we’re hoping that it will become a vibrant hub for different local events and activities.”

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “A huge amount of energy and effort has gone into creating this brilliant new community facility and we’re very pleased to be part of bringing the club’s plans to fruition.

“It’s great that one of the first local Banks Community Fund grants has gone to such a terrific community club, and we hope this encourages other community groups in the area to look at how the Fund might help them realise their ambitions too.”

The Banks Community Fund is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation, and provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.

Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.

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