Poulton tennis club set to battle on

St Chad's Tennis Club coach Greg Porter with youngsters left to right Alex Manders, Tomas Woods, Zarino Fodera, Nick McEvoy and Joe Wilson.

St Chad's Tennis Club coach Greg Porter with youngsters left to right Alex Manders, Tomas Woods, Zarino Fodera, Nick McEvoy and Joe Wilson.

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The defiant chairman of a tennis club says she is determined not to let problems surrounding a church hall affect the group’s future.

St Chad’s Tennis Club, in Poulton, is on the same patch of land off Vicarage Road as St Chad’s Church Hall, which is set to close at the end of the month.

Unless £100,000 is raised to renovate the hall, campaigners fear the venue could disappear.

Chairman Gemma Jackson had worried the clubhouse’s electricity would be lost if the church hall closed as the two premises are linked, but she says insurers have reassured her this will not be the case.

She said: “I still don’t know what other effects the church hall’s closure will have on our tennis club but we have a licence to operate until March 31, 2015.

“I hope we can carry on as long as we can.”

Despite the concerns hanging over the church hall, Mrs Jackson says members are doing everything to overcome this latest barrier, which follows a battle to stop a health centre being built on the site two years ago.

She added: “It has been a hard few years because we’ve been under threat with the medical centre and now it has all bubbled up with the church hall.

“We just have to wait and see what will happen but I’m dedicated to youngsters playing tennis and the main this is we keep going.

“We want to stay open for as long as we can and operate whatever happens to the church hall, which is the most important thing.”

The club, which was formed in 1928 is celebrating one of its best seasons, culminating in being nominated for Club of the Year and Development Coach of the Year at the Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) Lancashire Presentation Evening.

Mrs Jackson added: “We are in the running for the awards because we are a real asset to the community.

“The club epitomises everything about what grass roots tennis should be.”

The St Chad’s Parochial Church Council voted to shut the church hall because the £100,000 needed to restore the hall is not available.

John Bailie, a member of Concerned Residents of Poulton (CROP), which is campaigning for the church hall to stay open, said: “We are all working together to keep this facility in the middle of town and it’s really admirable how the tennis club has kept going through all the uncertainty.”

To vote for St Chad’s in the LTA awards visit www.lta.org.uk

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