Delight as first turf is cut for Uttlesford's first 3G pitch

The digger driver with Byron Sindell, Caroline Derbyshire, Matt Clare, Polly Lancaster in Saffron Walden

The first turf is cut on the first Uttlesford 3G pitch in Saffron Walden. Pictured: the digger driver with Byron Sindell (head of PE), Caroline Derbyshire (executive head), Matt Clare (from the football club), Polly Lancaster (head) - Credit: Archant

The turf has been cut on a project to install Uttlesford's first high quality 3G artificial grass football pitch, after a 10-year lead-in.

Contractors are spending this week setting up the site at Saffron Walden County High School and bringing in the heavy equipment needed. The work itself starts in the Easter school holidays.

Completion is expected in August 2021, ready for the new football season starting in September.

Saffron Walden Community Football Club secretary Matt Clare said they were delighted that construction on the 'long overdue' project is underway.

Uttlesford is the only district in the south east of England without this facility.

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"This is the result of a quite phenomenal community fundraising effort and we are extremely grateful for every single £1 that has been contributed.

"We’re really excited about this collaboration with Saffron Walden County High School and we plan to deliver a first class facility for Saffron Walden and Uttlesford.”

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Mr Clare said they are looking forward to teams being able to train and play matches on a flat and consistent surface regardless of the weather.

Caroline Derbyshire, Executive Headteacher of Saffron Walden County High School said: “To cut the turf on this exciting project was terrific.

"The facility could not come at a better time.

"Following the restrictive rules of the past year, we need to invest in all of the activities that our young people have missed out on and make sure that their experience of sport is the best we can give them in the future.

"The new artificial pitch is a high quality gift to the school and local community.”

The £1.1m project is primarily funded by a £817k grant from the Football Foundation, the UK's largest sports charity, channelling funding from the Premier League, The FA and the Government into transforming the landscape of grassroots sport in England.

A further £150k grant has been awarded by Uttlesford District Council, with £10,000 and £5,000 donations from Saffron Building Society and Saffron Walden Round Table respectively.

The balance of £118,000 has been directly fundraised by Saffron Walden Community FC and Saffron Walden PSG FC.

A recent study calculated that five pitches are needed, based on participation numbers. Organisers hope the pitch is the first of several to be constructed in the next few years.

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