Community – We strive that our facility should be at the heart of our local community and that we can provide facilities that the community can be proud to be associated with. To provide a safe and smart environment for our entire community, regardless of age, ability or background. We pride ourselves on being open and inclusive and aim to be a real community facility
Participation – Attract more of the community of all ages into tennis by improving and carrying out essential repairs to our facilities. We believe that an active community will hopefully be a happy and healthy community and provide many benefits
How – Donate to our Crowdfunding appeal and join us in our pledge to support the local community.
Who are we
Gravesham Tennis Club is a not for profit tennis club that is this year celebrating its 40 year anniversary. We are the tennis section of Gravesend Rugby Football Club and are located behind the rugby club on Rectory Field, Donald Biggs Drive. Our history stretches back even further, with our predecessor club belonging to the workers of Imperial Paper Mill created in 1919. In 1989 we replaced our grass with new hard courts and have continued to maintain and refresh the facilities.
Every penny that we raise goes back into the club and through this investment we are able to provide tennis facilities to be proud of. The Club is run completely by volunteers from the membership. The Club was recently described by the Mayor of Gravesham, Cllr John Caller as “having facilities second to none and the best in the Borough we have ever had.” We are based in Gravesend, which is an ancient town in Northwest Kent situated on the south bank of the Thames Estuary. We strive to be at the heart of our local community and have successfully built a current membership base of 157 adults and 129 children.
The Club benefits from 8 modern, full-sized hard courts with 6 being floodlit and each week we provide 25 organised coaching sessions, catering to people of all ages (we have members with age ranges from 5 to 84) and abilities from complete beginners to national standard players. We offer tots tennis, mini tennis, junior and adult coaching in addition to many social sessions. The Club is fortunate enough to have 6 LTA qualified male and female coaches affiliated to the club (LTA coaching levels 1-4).
We are a tournament venue, hosting county cups, winter county tour events for juniors and adults. We also run fun match play, county championships and hold numerous competitive events each year. We enter teams in the Kent and North Kent leagues for juniors, men, ladies, mixed doubles and veterans throughout the year. In the school holidays we run fun holiday camps and regularly have Free Open Days for anyone to come and try out our facilities
The Club last year completed the resurfacing of 3 of its courts with the cost being self-financed out of reserves. The courts have additional lines for junior and mini tennis so that younger players are very well catered for at the Club. The Club has twice won the Kent LTA Club of the Year award and before the pandemic organised LTA Tournaments on a regular basis.
Response to the pandemic
Tennis is thankfully considered to be one of safest sports to return to, allowing us to quickly open facilities after the first 8-week lockdown initially for Singles play. Eventually as restrictions lightened and doubles commenced it was fantastic to see so many people coming down and enjoying our outdoor courts. Being allowed back to tennis after lockdown made us really appreciate just how much we love being able to come to the Club and what tennis and being here means to our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
By keeping the Club open we managed to attract new interest from the community who have in turn found time to try a new sport or come back to tennis as well as making new friends in an open and friendly environment. This definitely helped ease the loneliness and help with the mental wellbeing of a lot of our members including of course the exercise. In the process we have naturally had extra expenses with all the sanitising liquids, increased cleaning regime and safety notices to mention a few items.
Naturally a great deal of work was required to ensure that the club remained COVID compliant at all times and anyone attending the Club remained safe. Unfortunately, due to our status we have had only limited access (a big thanks to Sport England) to financially benefit to date from any of the extensive local and national grant facilities that have been made available to assist the hardship that the pandemic has caused.
The Club provides
- affordable Pay and Play to our community and
- the provision of free weekly court use throughout the year to local schools as part of their physical education program
During last year, the Club successfully obtained 2 grants from Kent Sport as part of their Coronavirus funding initiative and the funds were used (along with supplementary funds from the Club) to provide heavily subsidised coaching to non-members (both 1on1 and group) for Key Workers and the Children of Key Workers. The Club was very pleased to offer this small thank you to our greatly appreciated Key Workers. Coaching was provided for 16 adults and 21 children over a period of 6 weeks by 3 of our LTA Qualified coaches.
In addition introductory tennis coaching sessions were run for adult non-members last year in an attempt to improve local resident fitness levels and generate interest in tennis.
The Club also participated in school open days and the Council Summer Festival to promote fitness, tennis and the Clubs’ facilities.
Why the need for Crowdfunding
Our membership fees are extremely keenly priced in an attempt to make “Sport Open For All.” We are now faced with the dilemma of compensating members for the forced closure of facilities by extending the current membership year and discounting upcoming membership fees. We are hopeful that members will donate back some of this discount in support of their club, however, we are very mindful that we are based in an area of high social deprivation and some members, similar to many throughout the country, will be facing financial difficulty and this will not be possible. As a club we will do everything within our power to continue making “Sport Open For All” but naturally need to cover our basic expenses in order to keep running and carry out essential repairs to the clubhouse and courts.
Crowdfunder and Sport England have teamed up to make £2.5 million of match funding available to help the sport and physical activity sector through the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. We have applied for match funding through this scheme and Sport England have confirmed that they will contribute £4,000 to our cause, providing we reach certain milestones. This is a superb opportunity and a great incentive to ensure our Crowdfunding is successful.
Please share our page far and wide on all your social media. Even the smallest of donations is very much welcomed.
Please pledge now whatever you can afford.
Where will the money raised be spent?
As we are sure you can imagine, as a not for profit club with limited means, we have an exhaustive list of where the funds could be spent, however, these are our priorities should we reach our target:
- to carry out essential repairs to the clubhouse – in particular to replace the floor structure to the rear of the building. If you are a local business that could assist us with this project and would like to be affiliated to our Club or this project we would be very glad to hear from you.
- to carry out essential repairs to courts 1-5 and repaint them so that they stay fit for purpose and in the best possible condition.
- to provide funding to continue our work in offering heavily discounted coaching in order to open up tennis to the greater community.