New Pirbright Cricket Club pavilion to be community facility

GET up close to the Pirbright Cricket Club clock tower that sits on top of its pavilion, and you may be able to make out the letters “JBA” and “ESA”.

These are the initials of club chairman Peter Austin’s parents, a fitting tribute for the service they gave their country during the Second World War.

The pavilion’s clock tower bears the initials of club chairman Austin’s parents

Austin’s father John was a bomber pilot in a secret squadron, and in the latter part of the war dropped agents into occupied France.

The clock tower will be preserved as Austin and club president Derek Bytheway now lead plans to pull down the existing pavilion and create a bigger, modern facility that they hope will re-energise the local sporting community.

It needs it. Bisley and Lightwater are among neighbouring cricket clubs to have folded in recent years – and with Bytheway stating that member numbers have decreased by a third in the last 10 years, it’s easy to see why.

Pirbright’s Peter Austin (left) and Derek Bytheway

“We’re fighting a battle constantly to make sure we’ve got enough players. However, we’ve got to remain optimistic, because we’ve got a great set-up here,” said Bytheway.

“We haven’t historically had the infrastructure – there are two football clubs in Pirbright that play outside the village because facilities haven’t been good enough – but we’re hoping that the youth programme that we’re introducing for cricket will be fully operational at the beginning of next season (bringing in more players).”

In conjunction with these efforts – the club are also running an inaugural colts event on the 27-28 August – the pavilion will be a centrepiece for daily life in Pirbright, as Bytheway explained. “It’ll be the hub of the community and available to all Pirbrighters,” he said.

“There’ll be a cafe, which will be a great help for the people locally. 500 kids come to school in Pirbright every day, and when the children are dropped off, the mums have got nowhere to go to have a coffee. Hopefully they’ll come in here. I would love to see it open seven days a week, nine hours a day.”

For the full story, see the 27 June edition of the News & Mail

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