Saturday March 14th, 2020. The senior side had just beat Tarleton 43:8 in a North West league clash and were on a 4-game winning run securing a position in the league for the following year. The Eagles had defeated near neighbours Cockermouth on the same day. Everyone then retired to the clubhouse where players and supporters alike held a social event involving 'State of Mind Sport', the charity that harnesses the power of sport to promote POSITIVE mental health among our sportsmen and women, fans and wider communities, and ultimately to prevent suicide. This evening along with other efforts resulted in over £700 being raised for the charity. Little did we know this would be our last game and major social for 12 months.
Who are we?
Aspatria RUFC is a grass roots community club, in the small rural market town of Aspatria (under 3000 population) in Cumbria but known throughout the country. We provide the opportunity to learn, play and enjoy competitive rugby for all. Founded in 1875 with a rich pedigree, we can boast former internationals, Lions players and numerous county representatives amongst our previous players. The club is operated entirely on the work of volunteers and the generosity of our magnificent sponsors. To this day we maintain strong links with all our former players, many who continue to support our club both locally and from a far.
“Once a Black Red, Always a Black Red”
Bower Park is our home and has been since the mid 70’s. We have 3 excellent rugby pitches for both senior teams and juniors plus changing facilities for six teams, a 300-seater grandstand and an all-weather training area. The main pitch is considered one of the best in the North of England.
Our club house has full disabled access, three bars, with a large function room that can host parties of up to 250 as well as three more smaller function rooms and a kitchen, all of which are utilised by the club and the wider community on a weekly basis.
Who uses Bower Park?
Bower Park isn’t just about Rugby. We are proud to be able to offer our facilities to a host of users in various guises.
- Maryport Archery Club – We are delighted the club have decided to make Bower Park their base from 2021 onwards.
- NHS Blood Donors – The club is the base for the NHS to hold their regular donor sessions for the local community.
- Pensioners Christmas Party – The club hosts the annual pensioners Christmas party, with many club volunteers helping be it in the kitchen or providing transport for the party goers.
- Aspatria Musical Festival – We host the very successful Aspatria Music Festival each year on our pitches with the club a hive of activity in the week building up to the festival and of course the weekend itself.
- Aspatria Charity Shop – We were delighted to offer our facilities this year to the charity shop to collect donations in the wake of the pandemic and allow them to operate to raise income.
- Aspatria Young Farmers – The young farmers use Bower Park to host meetings, quizzes and for talks.
- Aspatria Park Run – The pandemic saw plans for Bower Park to host the inaugural Aspatria Park Run put on hold. However, plans remain in place and as soon as able to, people will be able to enjoy a 5km park run around our grounds followed by a coffee and maybe a piece of cake!
- Aspatria Carol Service – Again the pandemic saw the annual Aspatria carol services halted. In December we were delighted to host a giant screen to allow a free drive in carol services to take place for all of the community to enjoy.
- Aspatria FC – Both the seniors and juniors of Aspatria FC utilise our training facilities during the winter months on a weekly basis, with our floodlights being the only one’s within an 8-mile radius.
- Aspatria Hornets and Cockermouth Titans – We have a brilliant working relationship with both local clubs with both clubs’ being able to utilise the facilities at Bower Park when not able to use their own. This relationship has seen several players flow between both clubs and keep as many people participating in the game of rugby.
- Beacon Hill – Beacon Hill, the local secondary school use Bower Park for after school training and matches as well as helping in the organisation of our annual junior touch competition for local primary schools which aids with the recruitment of players for our Junior Black Reds.
- Ladies Rugby – Aspatria were at the forefront of women’s rugby when a team was established in the mid 2000’s. Unfortunately, the team disbanded but with a reunion in the pipeline, the opportunity may be there to develop this area of offering rugby to women in the area.
- Slimming World - Every Wednesday, 50 to 60 participants.
In more normal times the club hosts a wide range of family gatherings to celebrate special occasions. The range is wide but includes christenings, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. We also provide meeting space for local groups. And part of our ethos is to offer all of this service free to individuals and other not for profit users.
These events are part of the lifeblood of the club and many local people will have benefitted. Now we are asking for your help.
Why do we need your support?
With Coronavirus ending both the rugby season, before it even began, and the ability to generate income from mid-March, we need to look at other avenues to secure our future. We have missed all senior and junior rugby games, sponsor and social events and the overall camaraderie this club offers.
On top of that, the usual facilities hired free to the community for birthdays, charities etc. have sadly had to be cancelled which has decimated bar income.
Our last rugby game and social function was Saturday 14th March, 2020 and it is now looking likely that our next will not happen for some time to come.
What have we done?
We haven’t rested on our laurels. The first action was to reduce or stop all non-essential expenditure. What was initially anticipated to last a couple of months, we are currently in month 10 of virtual lockdown. Excellent work by our team of volunteer’s ensured all non-essential items such as energy consumption and stock levels were reduced and good management see’s us ticking over each month.
In the summer when restrictions temporarily eased, several socially distanced gatherings took place with an excellent presentation evening for the 19/20 season taking place as well as several Saturdays where we were able to take advantage of the good weather. These were able to take place with a club restructure to implement a one-way system, sanitising stations and socially distanced seating, as was required at the time.
Come October and there was light at the end of the tunnel where were able to organise a inter club touch tournament and social. However, come 31/10/20, we were again locked down and have remained that way ever since.
In the meantime, our team of volunteers continue to maintain our facilities and grounds so we are in the best position going forward when able to.
Several fundraising events have taken place such as the Black Red lottery and Beer Bonanza raffle draw, which were well supported and most appreciated. Also in our help to kick Covid, we have offered our facilities free for Vaccine use, via Aspatria Medical Centre.
However, there can be no denying that maintaining the club and essential expenditure will and is ultimately hitting our cash reserves.
We have to tried to keep club members and supporters engaged throughout this unprecedented period. Player profiles, updates and nostalgia have been posted via our social media channels. When allowed, we have met up for socials and undertaken training. The committee have continued to meet when allowed whilst meetings now take place virtually, a somewhat a new experience to many!
Please help us all Return to Bower Park…
We are looking to raise £20,000 from our members and supporters - which along with the match funding we are applying for from Sport England, this will enable us to complete the projects in time for the planned return to Rugby in the Autumn.
What are we going to do with the money?
The current situation although not ideal, has allowed us to take stock of our facilities to see what health & safety and maintenance works are required at Bower Park, to ensure we return to rugby safely and that confidence in using our facilities is installed within the wider community. These include;
- Covid Ready - Help us be ready to operate both on and off the pitch once allowed following whatever restrictions may be put upon us. Which will include additional safety measures to ensure the safe participation of visitors, supporters and players alike.
- Ventilation Replacement - Replace all existing ventilation throughout changing areas to ensure a safe environment for home and visiting players.
- Medical Room Refresh - Renewal of current medical room to offer higher quality treatment to users. Including better access and washable walls.
- Grandstand Leak - Fix leaking from Grandstand, to ensure no further damage.
- Grandstand Doors - Replacement of main very large grandstand entry doors
- Security & Storage - Enhanced security and storage needed to accommodate our new Community Sports families, using Bower Park. Including new changing room doors/locks and storage units.
- Drainage improvement - Elimination of pond on access road alongside 1st XV pitch.
- Ladies Changing Room - Redesign Ladies changing room to be fit for purpose.
- Upgrade grandstand power supply- With more Community Sports using Bower Park, the powers supply to the Grandstand does need upgrading to accommodate the additional users.
- Ensuring the future of Aspatria RUFC and Bower Park - Continued maintenance and improvement of clubhouse and grounds to make it inviting for all visitors and users.
Please give generously and feel proud YOU are one of the Crowd who have helped the cause
Thank you all
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this. All at Aspatria RUFC appreciate anything that our members and the wider community can do during these difficult times. Any donation, large or small will go 100% towards the future of Aspatria RUFC and protect its facilities for use by everyone.