AFTER months of delays and fears that they could be left staring at a building site, Portchester Community School is celebrating the opening of its new all-weather sports pitches.
The £500,000 project has been four years in the planning and creation. But earlier this year it was thrown into jeopardy when the contractors went bust part way through the works.
Thankfully, a new developer was found and the project completed.
As soon as Pompey legend Linvoy Primus cut the ribbon to declare it open, teams of footballers dashed onto the synthetic pitch to try it out.
There are also five wheelchair-friendly tennis courts, with all the facilities open to the community to use.
Headteacher Roger Matthews said: ‘This has been a long and frustrating process, but we have finally got there.
‘We had hoped to have this opened before the summer holidays, but the weather intervened, and then we were hoping to open it in September, but this time it was the company working on it going into receivership.
‘There was every chance at that stage we could have been left with a building site and we wouldn’t have been able to use it.’
Mr Matthews added: ‘I’m delighted to say the rescue mission worked out.’
Linvoy said: ‘It enhances what the school have got already and it’s a valuable piece of equipment to allow them to improve on what they do academically and on the sports side of things.
‘It will be a great addition for the community.’
Matt Cooper, 12, who has cerebral palsy and took part in the Olympic torch relay in Bognor Regis, brought his torch along to the opening ceremony.
He said: ‘It was sensational taking part in the relay. But this is good too. It’s going to be great for the disabled sports it will help with. I play wheelchair basketball, but I’m looking forward to using it for the wheelchair tennis.’
Cllr Connie Hockley, who is in charge of leisure matters for Fareham, said: ‘It’s magic – the school deserves this.’
The scheme was funded by £130,000 from Hampshire’s education service, £50,000 from Fareham Borough Council and £200,000 from the school’s own capital funding.
It was also the only school in Hampshire to receive any funding from Sport England’s inspired facilities fund, which gave it £98,000.