Lovat shinty club get mystery £100,000 boost for clubhouse

AN anonymous Highland businessman has pledged a sum of up to £100,000 towards a £440,000 pavilion development by Lovat Shinty Club.

Image of the Lovat Shinty Clubhouse. Picture: Contributed

A major drive is now being launched to raise the remaining six figure sum to complete the funding gap for a development which will be a major community boost for the Kiltarlity area.

Club president John MacRitchie said: “Thanks to the generosity of this anonymous donor, we’ve decided to begin construction at Balgate Park in March. But we need to raise the remainder between now and next summer.

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“We’ve successfully sought grants from various charitable trusts while SportScotland have been impressed by our plans and a decision on financial support is expected by Christmas.

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“Now we’re launching a big push to raise more than £100,000 to finish the fundraising and ensure that, once started, the project can be completed in November, 2017.”

Mr MacRitchie, who managed Lovat to the 2015 Camanachd Cup win which ended a 63 year wait for the game’s top prize, admitted:”It’s a huge project for a small village and surrounding area and we’re delighted to reach this stage.

“The new pavilion will be a hub for other sports and community events and meetings and is much needed in Kiltarlity. For instance, NHS Highland is keen to use the new treatment room for holding surgeries.

“It’s crucial that we now close the remaining cash gap to guarantee the project’s completion. We’re in the process of writing letters to businesses in the area seeking assistance. We’re also launching our online crowdfunding effort.”

Club coaching and fundraising vice-chair Martin Bell said:”We’ve successfully introduced a women’s team which is already doing well and we’ve recruited 60 new under-14 members in the past 12 months.

“But our present premises are dilapidated and totally unsuitable for women and children. The facilities can’t cope with our expanding sports and social agenda. The new pavilion will have male and female changing rooms, which is a big step forward.

“It’s a huge commitment to bridge the shortfall by raising the final £100,000 but we know that local groups have folded because they don’t have somewhere to meet and they’d love to use our new pavilion.

“It would be a major development for the village – and, in addition, the calibre of these new facilities would enable us to apply to bring major shinty finals to Kiltarlity for the first time.”

Area councillor Margaret Davidson, convenor of Highland Council, said:”On this excellent project, Lovat are showing drive, flair and imagination in their efforts – much as they do on the pitch.

“The club is being exceptionally thoughtful in looking at ways the facilities could be used when they have no fixture. For instance, NHS Highland could use it as the venue for flu vaccine sessions or for visiting health professionals.

“I strongly encourage people and businesses to support this appeal and bring about a great community facility.”

Lovat Estates donated the corner of Balgate Park on which the club built its present small clubhouse in 1982. Then, in 1990, the club raised funds to acquire the whole park from the Estates.

The rest of the club’s fundraising committee are Linda Bell, Ian and Isla Cruden, and Ian Ferguson, with Billy Reynolds as architect.