Take a look at Withnell Fold Sports and Social Club's new tennis courts

Vice chairman Graham Green, committee member Dean Harris, member of the Withnell Fold Cricket Club Declan Charnock and committee member and tennis player Jayne Stevens
Vice chairman Graham Green, committee member Dean Harris, member of the Withnell Fold Cricket Club Declan Charnock and committee member and tennis player Jayne Stevens

After installing new tennis courts and cricket facilities, Withnell Fold Sports and Social Club is gearing up to becoming a hub for the community.

The club, which was set up more than 100 years ago by mill owner Mr Parkes as a gift to his workers, is considered a central point in Withnell Fold.
It has just unveiled new tennis courts, but this is just the beginning for the club.

Graham Green and member of Withnell Fold Cricket Club Declan Charnock

Graham Green and member of Withnell Fold Cricket Club Declan Charnock

Aiming to include even more members of the community, it has plans to redevelop its clubhouse, as well as extend its services, with a U3A group for pensioners, and other activities scheduled.

The club is also running the English Cricket Board All Stars junior cricket programme, coaching the next generation of cricketers.

Active committee member and vice chairman Graham Green, 59, says: “We are really excited to unveil our new tennis courts.
“Three years ago there was a bad flood, which damaged the wall and surface of the tennis courts. It had to be completely rebuilt.

‘“We got a grant from Sport England and Flood Relief and invested that in resurfacing the tennis courts and we got new cricket nets.
“We also bought a bowling machine for cricketers to improve their practice.
“Rather than someone throwing the ball, this offers a more predictable bounce for players to improve.

Declan Charnock

Declan Charnock

“This grant has helped us invest and improve our facilities to maintain the standards to attract people.”
The club now has a tennis coach, who runs sessions for both juniors and seniors, and it has reintroduced junior cricket coaching, alongside the ECB All Stars junior cricket programme.
It also runs cricket and tennis teams in local competitions.

Graham adds: “Last year we started doing junior cricket and we rolled out the ECB All Stars programme for youngsters aged five to eight, which is a big deal and is an investment for the ECB. With this, we get the parents and grandparents involved.”

The club, which currently has 120 members, also acts to engage people in social activities, such as pilates and yoga classes, as well monthly quizzes and occasional social events.

Graham explains: “There is a real community spirit here and we are trying to build on that.
“The club livens up in the summer as the tennis and cricket is on, but we want more things going on in the winter.
“We have a positive vibe already, with the pilates and yoga, and monthly quizzes, but we are looking to develop on the social side and involve more people.

Jayne Stevens

Jayne Stevens

“We are looking to set up a University of Third Age, improve the changing rooms and redevelop the clubhouse.
“The latter may take a while to do but it will be a massive investment.

“Our small bar opens during fixtures and will be open for a trial period on Friday evenings during the spring.
“The outfield is used by the village school for PE lessons, Sports Day and other outdoor activities.

“The club is available for hire for functions and we have strong links with Leyland Ladies and Darwen 3rds who hire our cricket pitch from time to time.
“We are very hopeful for the future and are trying to expand what we do, particularly on the community side.
New members are always welcome.

For more details visit https://clubspark.lta.org.uk/WithnellFoldSportsandSocialClub.

Longest serving committee member Dean Harris behind the bar

Longest serving committee member Dean Harris behind the bar