Lights turned on at tennis club

PUBLISHED: 14:00 10 October 2007 | UPDATED: 21:50 29 May 2010

Stebbing Tennis Club celebrate under floodlights

Stebbing Tennis Club celebrate under floodlights

TENNIS players in Stebbing can now look forward to playing matches in the winter evenings after the official launch of their £17,965 floodlights. More than 30 club members watched and cheered on Thursday as club captain Erika Taunton flicked the switch to

TENNIS players in Stebbing can now look forward to playing matches in the winter evenings after the official launch of their £17,965 floodlights.

More than 30 club members watched and cheered on Thursday as club captain Erika Taunton flicked the switch to flood the courts with electric light, which was the culmination of eight years of hard work and fund-raising.

Vicky Skilton, chairman of Stebbing Tennis Club, said: "The lights are fantastic and will extend the periods in which we can enjoy our courts, especially over the dark evenings that are now coming up.

"We have a lovely club with excellent facilities here and all of the people that have helped us should feel justly proud."

The lights can be used on Tuesday to Thursday up until 10pm.

It was originally hoped funding for the lights would come through grants, but when these applications were turned down, the members took up the challenge of raising the money.

So followed years of fund-raising including James Bond themed casino evenings, black-tie dinners and quizzes.

Stansted Airport Community Trust gave £2000 and Uttlesford District Council Leisure and Cultural grant scheme added a further £250 to the pot. Andrew Martin Associates submitted plans and obtained the required planning permission at no cost to the club.

Mrs Skilton said: "I'd like to say a very special thank you for the enormous input of this and previous committees in organising and running the club.

"We must not forget all our recent hard work would not have come to fruition without the foundations laid by enthusiastic members in the 1990's."

The installation of the floodlights is the latest chapter in an incredible story that goes back to before the First World War when there was a thriving tennis club in the village.

In 1935, Dr. H. De Vere Stackpool left the club enough land sufficient for three tennis courts. However, at the outbreak of World War Two, the courts were dug up as part of the 'Dig for Victory' campaign to provide food for the village, after which the land was absorbed by the Co-Op Farm and lost to the village as a sports facility.

During the 1980s David Howland, honorary patron and trustee, with the support of Sir Alan Haselhurst MP, started trying to persuade the Co-Op farms to transfer the piece of land so that it could be used as a tennis club.

This was achieved in 1990 and in 1997 the courts were officially opened by Sir Alan.

In April 2005 Sir Alan returned to open the new club house. The £23,000 cost being raised by the Tennis Club from subs, and fund-raising events.

Mrs Skilton said the next target is to re-surface and re-fence the existing two courts with the long term aim to raise funds for a third court.

"Our club has a reputation for being friendly and open to players of all standards," she said. "We can also offer people of all ages coaching sessions and will welcome new members."

People wishing to know more about Stebbing Tennis Club should contact Vicky Skilton on 01371 856257.

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