The Wallingford Sports Trust has stated that it is in a “dramatically better place” than last year after opening a new hospitality facility at Wallingford Sports Park.

An old-fashioned bar converted into a large contemporary café and the installation of a solar-powered battery system estimated to produce 30,000kwh of energy a year were officially launched at the sports park last Friday afternoon (November 17).

The event was attended by MP David Johnston, representatives from South Oxfordshire District Council and Wallingford Town Council, members of the eight clubs that comprise the trust and regular users of the sports park.

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The trust confirmed the new café came at the cost of £95,000, with more than 90 per cent financed by external grants.

The new energy system acts as the final part of a three-stage strategy to cut the park’s electricity usage in half, costing £80,000 – all of which was financed by external grants.

Low-cost measures within the pavilion at the site and the installation of LED lights on the all-weather pitch were stages one and two of the trust’s new energy strategy.

Co-Chair of Wallingford Sports Trust John Atkins said: “We’re in a completely different place to 12 months ago, especially with the cost of electricity.

"The summer before last we were concerned about the future as prices were looming with the upcoming winter, but with the help of grants we’re in a much more robust position.

“We’re in a dramatically better place than last year, with a new look and now boosting the hospitality side of what we do for everyone. ‘Future-proof’ is the best way to describe where we think we are right now.”

Oxford Mail: The plaque unveiled on Friday listed and thanked those who had donated to the Trust, contributing to the improvements.

Mr Atkins also confirmed the trust had witnessed higher footfall through the doors at the sports park in the last year following the creation of new housing developments in the area, and a greater desire amongst many to get involved with clubs and activities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Looking to the future, the trust has aspirations to make renovations to the existing all weather pitch and increase the capacity of the sports park through the installation of a 3G football pitch and a second all weather pitch.

Mr Atkins added: “In several areas throughout the county, local authorities own and fund leisure facilities. We run the sports park as the trust in Wallingford for the people of Wallingford. We’re open to everyone.”