THATCHAM Rugby Club broke ground for their new clubhouse on the opening day of the Rugby World Cup last Friday.
The club currently shares Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club’s building at the Henwick Worthy sports field.
It’s been three years since Thatcham RFC said that it needed its own building, bar, toilets and kitchen owing to a surge in members.
Speaking at the site on Friday, Thatcham Rugby Club president, Bob Moore, said: “It’s critical to the future of the club.
“Until we get this built it’s quite a struggle sometimes to let people know we are here.”
He said that the club’s growth has been thanks in part to the hockey club’s generosity in allowing them to use its facilities.
He added that the clubhouse would be an important community asset for other local clubs, groups and individuals to use.
Newbury MP Richard Benyon manned a digger at the groundbreaking ceremony last Friday, under the careful eye of Newbury-based contractors Calco Construction and project managers from Hungerford Design.
Club members and supporters have raised more than £75,000 towards the project, including producing their own naked calendar and through a buy-a-brick scheme.
Mr Moore described the fundraising as a “monumental effort” that was still ongoing.
Club chairman Will Sewell, said that members never thought it would take three years to get this far and thanked supporters for their generosity towards the project.
Around £375,000 of the £400,000 total has been received so far, most of it loans and grants.
They include Sport England’s Inspired Facilities, which granted £50,000, a Greenham Common Trust grant up to £50,000, the RFU granting £30,000 and loans from The Rugby Football Foundation and Berks RFU.
Mr Moore said he was delighted that the club had signed a 35-year lease with West Berkshire Council, which owns the Henwick field.
He added that the building work was expected to be finished in March 2016.
Mr Moore said that Thatcham RFC was thriving with three adult teams and touch rugby for men and women.
He said the youth section was growing rapidly, with the club working to establish an opportunity for youngsters to play from the age of six upwards.
He said the club, which was formed in 1981, was committed to being firmly grounded in the local community, providing coaching sessions in schools as well as running the annual schools tournament, scheduled for October 10.
For more information visit www.thatchamrfc.co.uk
With the Rugby World Cup now underway, Mr Sewell said that England had a good chance in the tournament although New Zealand were the favourites.