St John’s appeals for £350,000 to give Marlborough its own Olympic legacy
Olympics year is being targeted by St John’s School, Marlborough, to raise the final £350,000 needed to pay for the finest sports facilities for its students – and the local community – on its hilltop site.
The introduction of tennis and netball courts plus an artificial all-weather pitch are the heart of a fund-raising campaign aimed at completing the £27 million project launched a decade ago to create the unique secondary school.
“I never want to miss a single opportunity,” declared headmaster Dr Patrick Hazlewood. “And with the Olympic torch passing through Marlborough in May, we will be looking to create some quite creative ideas to maximise fund-raising in Olympics year.”
“It provides the opportunities we need if we are to have a legacy for sport in this country and do something to raise the quality of the facilities available. And St John’s wants to play its part in that.”
He pointed out: “At the moment our students miss out hugely by not having the finest sports facilities available. The weather at the moment produces cold, rainy, wet and damp pitches that impedes our sport.”
“Without proper facilities it does restrict what we can achieve. With the proper facilities, we can achieve anything we desire.”
The original St John’s plan was for a new school costing £22 million, paid for by the sell-off of land for housing. But planning difficulties raised by the then Kennet District Council twice delayed its start until 2008, the time lag increasing the project costs to £27 million.
All but a million of that was raised but the shortfall meant delaying the new sports facilities costing £750,000. An initial £300,000 was then donated, leaving a Phase II appeal to raise the remainder.
And in recent months almost £30,000 has been added to give an encouraging boost to the campaign.
“The reaction of local companies in these difficult times is very positive,” revealed Dr Hazlewood. “In the run up to Christmas we had a couple of £5,000 donations, which was absolutely fantastic.”
“Our parents, local businesses, local charities and local groups have been phenomenally supportive of the school. In our atrium area we have a ‘thank you board’ with something like 200 sets of names on it of people who have given very, very generously.”
“Our very active Friends of St John’s, an organisation a bit like a PTA, are an amazing group of people who put on big events, raise lots of money and put themselves out to ensure that our children get the sort of facilities they deserve.”
“More importantly, these facilities are not simply just for the children. They are for the community to use as well. What we have here is a community that sees that the entire community benefits.”
That includes the current use of St John’s sports hall, dance and drama facilities, conference room and its acclaimed Theatre on the Hill.
Planning permissions for the new facilities will be sought within six weeks with a target completion in June. “And so I am hoping that by December we will have our planning permissions, raised the money and finally got everything sorted out,” said Dr Hazlewood.