The place was the Lord Halsbury Playing Fields in Northolt, the weather was sheer perfection, the company was excellent and the occasion truly memorable.
The much loved sports facilities and public open space at Lord Halsbury had been woefully underused since a fire had destroyed the clubhouse in 2011 but an ingenious and original exercise led by Ealing Council had managed to draw down funding from the Football Foundation, The Mayor of London’s Facility Fund, Sport England’s Inspired Facilities Fund and from the council itself. An immense amount of work was undertaken by Larkspur Rovers and for a football club to suddenly have to become grant application experts was daunting – but the end more than justified the exhaustion and the effort.
The result of all this was unveiled on 25th.July by our Mayor, Cllr.Kamaljit Dhindsa with council leader Julian Bell, and revealed to the waiting world a beautiful new clubhouse for the long established local football team, Larkspur Rovers and a gym for Northolt Amateur Boxing Club.
And there was more!
In addition to a multi-use games area located outside the perimeter fencing and built to provide activity and entertainment for the Islip Manor community not part of Larkspur Rovers of Northolt ABC there was an all weather pitch featuring an artificial surface far from the nylon horrors that stripped the skin of anyone who played at Loftus Road when they foolishly installed what felt like green sandpaper. This surface actually looked like lush grass and a tentative sliding tackle told me that it was a lot less abrasive than had been the case in years gone by.
And there was even more!
Six full size football pitches are being drained as we speak and – hopefully – will provide a home for Larkspur Rovers from next season. The three boxing world champions present at the opening will, almost certainly, one day be joined by others from Northolt and the facilities that were opened at Lord Halsbury will go a long way towards providing the backing that our future Olympians and record holders need in order to progress and to prosper.
It is no surprise that the miracle of Islip Manor is massively popular locally and for the open space to be guaranteed for the community and the provision of absolutely top of the range football, boxing and multi use facilities will go a long way towards encouraging a more healthy lifestyle and giving people a sense of pride and achievement that sport can provide so well.
Local councillors Ara Iskanderian and Chris Summers were on hand to see the fruits of the work that so many had contributed towards and their personal contributions were happily acknowledged.
Political balance was provided by Cllr. Ann Chapman but this was not a day for differences but for the unifying abilities of sport. It was marvellous to see that the founder of Larkspur Rovers, John Herbert Hern, was represented by his grandson who keeps alive the family connection to the club and the role of Pat Wilson in keeping Northolt ABC as a thriving club cannot be overemphasised.
Above all – credit to the Bartlett and Virgo families for the immense dedication they give to Larkspur Rovers.
Graham and Carol Bartlett are at the heart of the club and the fact that the heart is beating so strongly is in no small way due to them. All in all – a really great day for Northolt, for the borough, for sport and for the preservation of open space.