Crookham Common Athletics Track was reopened in 2009 thanks to a £640,000 refurbishment programme funded by Greenham Common Trust.
Former World Championship sprint relay medallist Bev Callender officially opened the Crookham Common Athletics Track on Saturday to give West Berkshire its first competitive all-weather facility.
Bev, who still holds the British record for the 4X100m relay with her team mates Kathy Cooke, Heather Oakes and Sonia Lanneman in the Moscow Olympics in 1980, broke the tape to declare CCAT a “top-class facility the district can be proud of”.
Bev joined Greenham Common Trust director and trustee David Bailey, Newbury mayor Phil Barnet, West Berkshire Council vice chairman Hilary Cole and Thatcham deputy mayor Jenny Weaving along with representatives from Newbury and Team Kennet athletics clubs, who will run the facility, for the opening ceremony.
Bev, who lives in Purley-on-Thames and coaches her son Kelvin, said: “This is a fantastic facility for athletes in West Berkshire which will only foster and enhance the talented sports men and women who live here.”
The Thornford Park track was constructed for use by the United States Air Force when it was based at Greenham Common in the 1980s. Newbury Athletic Club used it on a limited basis. The facility had fallen into disrepair during the 1990s, but thanks to a major investment of £640,000 by Greenham Common Trust and £100,000 of Lottery money from the Community Athletics Refurbishment Programme (funded by Sport England) the track is now open and ready for training and competitions. UK Athletics also donated £1,000 towards the project.
In addition to the total refurbishment of the track and the infield, the funding has provided a beautiful new clubhouse, with full changing, kitchen and meeting facilities.
Chairman of CCAT Dr Keith Scott said: “It is a huge benefit to track and field athletics for the Newbury area. Both clubs have had to train without using proper facilities for years. They now have a professional all-weather track they can be proud of to train on and hold local competitions. It is wonderful news and I can’t thank everybody enough who has contributed.”
West Berkshire Council was instrumental in supporting this major community project through the planning application, which submitted by the Trust and the two clubs in 2003, and the construction process.
Thatcham Town Council also helped to fund some of the equipment which was jointly match-funded by the two athletics clubs.
The owner of the site, Priory Healthcare, has agreed to lease the facility to Greenham Common Trust on 99-year lease.
Team Kennet chairman Dennis Tucker said: “The excellent facilities are a fantastic addition to the current local training venues. Newbury AC and Team Kennet promote and develop all aspects of athletics across West Berkshire. The clubs cater for all levels of ability, offering a full range of training to the current membership, which ranges from age eight to veteran. If you are not sure you want to join a club but would like to “try out” athletics, then contact Sarah Fowler at Newbury AC or myself to arrange some trial sessions.