Official opening of York Railway Institute FC's new changing rooms and community hall by Hugh Bayley MP

York Railway (RI) Sports Club will officially unveil its brand new facilities on Sunday 13 September, at 12.45pm – York RI Community Sports Ground, New Lane, Acomb, York, YO24 4NX.

York’s local MP, Hugh Bayley, will cut the ribbon to officially open the new changing facilities at 1pm. In attendance will be former York City Manager, Terry Dolan, who will also be running a coaching session for youngsters, along with representatives of the funding bodies, sports bodies and the local council.

A fun day featuring a range of activities and stalls has been organised to celebrate this landmark event in the club’s history including the York RI brass band from 12.00pm until 2.00pm. Acomb Fire Brigade will also have a fire engine at the ground from 1.30pm.

The project, which has cost more than £600,000 in total, has been the next phase in rejuvenating the club and is providing the site with eight self-contained changing rooms, disabled toilets and a Community Hall together with other improvements. The funding is believed to be the largest inward investment from granting bodies to any amateur club in the York area.

The Football Foundation – the UK’s largest sports charity, funded by the Premier League, the FA and the Government – generously funded a large part of the scheme with a grant of £324,000, the Rugby Union Foundation has contributed £123,000, Community Investment Fund £120,000, Foundation for Sport and the Arts £25,000. £10,000 came form the Yorkash fund and other donations including buy-a-brick. Money was also raised through a variety of fund-raising events by the club.

This is the latest phase of developing the site, from its origins as a railway sports club in 1936 to becoming a real community asset. The club nearly folded in the early 2000s being reduced to a couple of rugby union teams and a handful of junior football teams. The club now boasts adult and junior, male and female teams playing football, rugby union, rugby league, cricket, netball and petanque. In 2004 two floodlit netball courts were built and are home to seven netball clubs running 13 teams and a petanque terrain has been added.

York RI is a Community Amateur Sports Club with the football and rugby union accredited to their governing bodies and the other sports working towards accreditation. York RI is a partner to the Ebor Schools Partnership and has hosted numerous events for schools in York.

York-based construction company GEM was the main contractor on the project, with P G Thompson managing the project.

York RI club chairman Sean Heslop said: “We are absolutely delighted with our new facilities. It’s taken seven years, and a lot of hard work, to reach this point, and we were able to achieve this thanks to the dedication and hard work of the club’s volunteers and support from York City Council Arts and Leisure Department.”

“This new facility will help us to build on all the good work done by a lot of people since the sports ground opened in 1936 and will ensure the New Lane Community Sports ground becomes a really useful and valuable community facility for all ages and supporting all types of sporting and social activities. We would like to thank everyone who has donated funds in anyway, or attended any fundraising event, and also everyone who has donated their time and effort to help make this happen.”

“In the late nineties it looked like the site might be closed and sold for development. A hard core of the membership drew up a footprint for the site and a strategy to achieve it. In the ten years since all the sections are thriving, netball and petanque are new sports with cricket being re-established.  We have planning permission for two more netball courts, a kids clubhouse and a members’ lounge so we’ve plenty more to be getting on with. With the Community Hall we are really saying to the local community please join us and develop the activities and events you want to see happening.”