Harlow Squash Club had their Grand re-opening on Wednesday 19th October. After two years of renovations on all three courts, the club was back up and running with the official launch night, which featured a World Class exhibition match between the former World Number 1 and current World Number 19, James Willstrop, and Chris Simpson currently ranked number 21 in the world. Both players, who live locally, train up at the club in-between tournaments.

With over 80 spectators the match was won by Chris Simpson 3 games to 1 (11-8 11-8 5-11 11-8). Both Chris and James put on a spectacular match which was enjoyed by all members.

Both players also demonstrated some of the techniques that they use when they train on court for the world tournaments. Following their match, they also spent time answering members questions.

The reopening of the courts is the culmination of two years work, as all three courts have been unchanged since they were built more than 35 years ago, needing repair work on the floors, walls, doors and tins. The courts have been subjected to years of pounding from squash balls and the players.

In addition, subsidence had opened up a very large crack on one of the court walls. Following the recent investment by the club the courts are now modern having new floors and plastered walls, new glass doors, and adjustable tins to allow elite player practise and competition. The club itself has been redecorated and newly carpeted.

All the work that has been carried out has been achieved through a change of governance of the club so that it could gain Community Amateur Sports Club status which made the club eligible for grants.

Consultation with the club members and other bodies including North Yorkshire Sport, Harrogate Borough Council and England Squash led Harlow Squash Club into a rigorous and lengthy bid preparation process, following which the club were awarded ¬£20,000 from Sport England’s Inspired Facility fund. Using this money, some club savings and insurance to remedy the subsidence, the transformation has been achieved.

The club now has a thriving junior section with some juniors playing for the Yorkshire Squads. The coaching department at the club has also encouraged links with local schools to promote the game and encourage physical activity. The club also boasts 16 mini leagues, and 7 teams who compete in local leagues.

Thanks must also go to our sponsors over this period who were Harrogate Family Law, and are now are DJ Circuits, Kirk Newsholme Financial Planning, Dishang, BioClad, Eclipse Colours and Batchelors of Ripon.

Report by Kate Watts