BREAKING | King George project secures major grant from Westminster Foundation

Chester FC Community Trust’s plans to create a new community sports hub in Blacon took a significant step forward today after the Westminster Foundation announced a major grant to support the initiative.

The Westminster Foundation, led by the Duke of Westminster, will commit £520,000 over the next five years to the King George V Sports Hub project, following approval of plans for the site by the Council’s planning committee at the end of last year.

The £1.6m regeneration project is being driven forward by Chester FC Community Trust and Chester West and Cheshire Council. The initiative will breathe new life into the site and enable the Community Trust to deliver a range of community projects for people of all ages and abilities. It will provide a first-class sports facility for the next generation, as well as providing education, training and employment opportunities.

Before lockdown in October 2020, the Duke of Westminster visited a Community Trust football holiday camp for 5-15 year olds at Chester FC’s Deva Stadium to hear more about the project. That followed an earlier visit in September to the site in Blacon where the new sports hub will be based.

The Duke of Westminster, Chair of the Westminster Foundation said: “This is a fantastic initiative that will bring so many benefits to children and young people in the community across all age ranges. When we’re not in lockdown and you see the sheer joy on the children’s faces taking part in activities like the holiday camp, you instantly understand the importance that team sport has on their happiness and development. And for the older group, the opportunities to access further training and earn BTEC qualifications are very welcome, especially at such a challenging time.

“I’d like to thank everyone behind this project at Chester FC Community Trust for their vision and determination to see it succeed. It simply wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for them. Their passion to support children and young people is inspiring and everyone at the Westminster Foundation is very proud to support them.”

Jim Green, Chief Executive at Chester FC Community Trust commented: “We are thrilled The Duke of Westminster is supporting this project and greatly appreciative of the enthusiasm and understanding he has shown for the many benefits it will have for Blacon and sport in Chester.

“This will be a place where sport’s ability to transform lives, help young people fulfil their potential and create stronger, healthier communities will be brought to life, and this grant includes a significant contribution to the costs of building the sports hub and funding over the next five years to design and deliver projects that engage and improve local communities.

“The Westminster Foundation’s passion for creating opportunities and supporting communities is shared by the Community Trust and we look forward to strengthening this partnership in the years to come.”

King George V Playing Fields is a prominent site in the community which has historically been well used for team sports and recreation, however a lack of investment and maintenance has seen the pitches deteriorate into a poor condition. The project will turn derelict sports fields into a new 3G floodlit pitch and improved grass pitches to host a wide variety of football activities, including mental health and wellbeing football, disability football, walking football and development sessions for young boys and girls.

A refurbished Clubhouse will also act as a flexible community space for meetings and training including a new post-16 education provision helping young people gain a BTEC Sport qualification, FA coaching awards and practical experience to create a pathway to higher education and employment.