THE future of a popular bowling club is looking bright after a £76,000 transformation.
The long-term viability of Bedhampton Bowling Club was in doubt as members were finding it increasingly difficult to afford the £8,000 a year upkeep of the green.
But the sale of the former Bedhampton School has proved to be a lifeline.
Community leaders campaigned for cash from the school’s sale to be poured back into the community and secured a £400,000 windfall.
Hampshire County Council awarded £60,000 towards the cost of providing an all-weather carpet surface at the club, which is near Bidbury Mead.
There were cheers as local county councillor Liz Fairhurst cut the ribbon to officially unveil the revamped club, which has 126 members.
Tony Hill, president of the club, said he was keen for membership to grow as people can play all year round now.
He said: ‘The future was looking bleak and we had to find some way of overcoming this. This is the way forward.’
Three of the founder members of the club, formed in 1984, were there to see the unveiling.
Jean Drackett, Tom Tiller and Mick New still play bowls and find it keeps them young and fit.
Mrs Drackett, from Bedhampton, said: ‘It’s excellent.’
Also at the ceremony was Muriel Thomas, 87, of Maylands Road, who is visually-impaired but still plays bowls at Havant Indoor Bowling Club and is a social member at Bedhampton.
She is still able to hit the jack by aiming for a torch.
She said: ‘I enjoy the competition and exercise. I think this is marvellous.’
County Cllr Fairhurst said: ‘It’s an overused word, but I would describe it as one of Bedhampton’s jewels.’
Jenny Wride, a councillor for Bedhampton, added: ‘It’s a very exciting new start.’