OHMG – The Story – Part 3

Eastington Community Centre and Owen Harris Memorial Ground

Following on from the two previous articles this one is about ‘fundraising’ and the decades of hard work that has gone in to creating the current facilities that we have at the Owen Harris Memorial Ground today.

The first Committee, ESPFA (Eastington Sports and Playing field Association) had formed with idea of purchasing some land for a playing field. They were still in evidence in the late 1980’s but by the early 1990’s they had been replaced by ESCA (Eastington Sports and Community Association). At this time the Owen Harris Memorial Ground Charity had formed and was governed by a board of Trustees who had the responsibility for managing the Village Hall and the newly obtained playing field. ESCA was a working group whose aim was to raise money for a new community facility at the site.

There doesn’t seem to have been a lot of grant activity. SDC gave another grant of £2,000 in 1994 and in 1995 applications were made to the National Lottery (a new thing, try and think of the right 6 numbers between 1 and 50, you’re bound to win), to the Foundation for Sports and Art and to the Langtree Trust. Later grant applications were also made to ‘Awards for All’, part of the Lottery. Some loans were also obtained, one from the Sports Council, who also gave a grant, and one from the Public Works Loan Board. This loan for £13,000 seems to have been granted to the Parish Council rather than the charity. These monies were mainly used to install drainage, fencing, site access and so on.

But local fundraising was the key at this time and members of ESCA worked incredibly hard and were very inventive. Some examples are: The 100 Club, a monthly draw to win £10 or £5 which raised over £1,000 annually for a number of years, Sponsor a brick, carol singing, bonfire nights, quiz nights, race nights, fun days and so many more initiatives.

In 1995 a head shaving competition raised a whopping £167.13. I don’t have any details but am guessing it was either one person with a lot of hair sponsored by many people who had drunk a lot of beer, or many people who had drunk a lot of beer having their heads shaved. Hopefully not too much beer was drunk prior to the ‘blind killer darts night’, for which the pub landlord advised that he had 3 dart boards available – just as well by the sound of it.
Another good steady earner in the 90’s was the waste paper collection which making around £300 a year for the Charity. Papers were collected every week and sold to the local authority; unfortunately by 1999 this income stream dried up. Now we pay the local authority to take our waste paper away, what happened there?

Local business sponsorship was also amazing. Every single business in Eastington was gifting something for the tombola, doing pub events (head shaving v popular) and giving so much more support with the physical and actual things that are the foundations of the site today. One shop keeper complained that he hadn’t been asked for a donation, they had felt too embarrassed to keep asking him.

By 2001 ESCA, who had been managing the Village Hall, the temporary pavilion, the pavilion hirers (hard work) and the continual requirements for repairs and improvements at the site, folded. The pavilion was beyond economic repair and becoming a money pit and the idea of a new facility was looking very remote indeed.

But what was achieved by so many local people should be recognised and commended because all that hard work laid the foundations for what is there today.

Gill Glover: Centre Manager: 01453 828782

Martin Elliott: 01453 838712

Mark Cousins: 01453 828557