Kettering Town Harriers athletics club have hosted their first ever evening Open Meeting on Tuesday 5th April to celebrate the installation of its new purpose built floodlights.
The evening saw IPC World Championships silver medallist Jonathan Broom-Edwards and the third ranked British triple jumper of all time, Nathan Douglas, giving young athletes advice and encouragement. The event was attended by England Athletics Chief Executive Chris Jones and Deputy Mayor Cllr Scott Edwards as well as other council representatives.
The new lighting completed in February 2016 will enable athletes at the club to train on the track in well-lit conditions throughout the year, giving the opportunity to boost the squad’s competitive performance, as well as supporting people of all abilities and backgrounds in taking part in athletics.
Kettering Town Harriers were awarded a grant in October 2015 from England Athletics, through Kettering Borough Council, who project managed the development. The grant was supplemented by Kettering Town Harriers club funds. The England Athletics funding comes from money allocated by Sport England for use in developing athletics facilities across England in the period 2013-17.
Few running clubs have a heritage like Kettering Town Harriers which was established over 120 years ago in 1894, and this landmark development will help secure the success of its future athletes for many more years to come. It has been based at its current home in Thurston Drive, Kettering, since 1993. Although this bespoke track facility boasts many excellent assets, it previously shared its floodlighting with the adjacent all-weather Hockey pitch, and this is only sufficient to light the main 100 meter straight, leading to severe restrictions in track capacity during the winter months. Club athletes train twice a week between 7 and 9pm, but between September and April when the track’s visibility is at its poorest, only limited numbers can be safely accommodated on the facility and the club has seen immediate improvements in the ability to train since the floodlights were completed.
The club boasts a growing membership from Under 11’s to Masters participating in athletics with a healthy joggers/ road runners section, and a large number of talented juniors who have been hugely successful in recent years on the national stage, winning the Kettering Sports Awards “Team of the Year” two years running, and also scooping the Northamptonshire sports awards Community Team of the Year award in November 2015.
Kettering Town Harriers’ Chairman, Matt Brown, who was instrumental in driving forward the project since taking over as Chairman at the start of 2015, is delighted with this substantial investment. He commented: “The new floodlighting has already made a massive difference to all the club coaches and athletes training during the dark winter nights. Lighting at the track has always been a challenge to the club’s development.
He added: “The installation will enable us to grow the club and increase participation at all levels in all areas of our sport. It will also benefit the whole Kettering community and put us on a sure footing going forward. We will be able to host more events in future and already arranged for four evening floodlit open meetings this year. For the first time we have been able to host an evening veterans league match outside of a small window in the few weeks surrounding the longest night of the year.”
The lighting issue was one of the topics discussed with Chris Jones, Chief Executive of England Athletics, when he came to Kettering on one of his series of visits to athletics and running clubs across the country. The meeting, held on a cold, dark February night in 2015 during a training session, highlighted the issues faced by the club. Throughout the past year there have been on-going discussions with England Athletics Regional staff, Sport England and the Kettering Borough Council community services team which has now led to England Athletics allocating the funding.
England Athletics Chief Executive Chris Jones said, “I’m very much looking forward to seeing the difference that these new floodlights make to the activities of Kettering Town Harriers first hand.
“When I last went to the club it was clear that the club was doing great work due to the impressive efforts of its volunteers but I have the same expectation as those volunteers I met – that these floodlights will make for a much better environment for athletes to train and compete in, that they will boost the efforts of volunteers and give a lift to the role that the club plays in its local community.
“Kettering Town Harriers have a fine track record in working hard to bring people into the sport and develop athletes. The club are reigning English National champions in the Women’s Under 20 4x400m, have had many athletes reaching the finals of National Championships and a recent winner of the prestigious English Schools National cross country in Emily Williams who went on to win her first England vest at the Home Countries Schools; international in March 2016. We look forward to hearing of many more successes in the years to come.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with the club, Kettering Borough Council, Sport England and the approved contractor Halliday Lighting on this project and to see such a fantastic result. I know the club and our staff are very grateful to the council for the way they have worked on this project and would commend them for that.”