FOR years football-playing residents of a tiny Yorkshire Dales village had to look on enviously as their counterparts elsewhere enjoyed modern sporting facilities, including the luxury of hot showers.
They worked hard to get grants for their ultimate dream of building a sports pavilion at Carperby in Wensleydale, but despite all their endeavours and fundraising the project appeared to be making slow progress.
But then confectionery group Mars stepped in and promised the village would receive sufficient funds to complete the pavilion by the end of the year – so long as its construction could be filmed for a TV advertisement.
A member of the sports pavilion project team, Nick Oliver, said he found out a few weeks ago that the Football Association had mentioned the pavilion project to Mars. He said: “It’s been a whirlwind since then.’’
The builders had to estimate how much it would cost to complete the project on which an initial start had been made and there were meetings with Mars representatives and the FA.
The villagers say they feel very fortunate to be chosen by Mars but Mr Oliver added: “Without all our efforts over the last five years we would not have been in the right place for this.”
A casting session has now taken place with the junior football team from Carperby, in advance of filming the advertisement for national TV.
Richmond MP William Hague said: “This is long deserved and long needed. It is the Big Society in action – or rather, a small society but a very good one.
“You have all been fantastic,” he added when he heard how so many local people had been involved in the project.
Mr Oliver and his wife, Hazel, who has been one of the main fundraisers, had thought it would take another five years to complete the pavilion.
The project was launched in 2004 and since then the village, which has 223 residents, has raised 40,000 in a wide variety of events.
“Mars was looking for a grass- roots project,” said Mr Oliver. “Mars has said they want local people to do the whole lot. We have a great community for that – lots of skilled and talented people,” he added.
North Yorks county councillor John Blackie said: “I can quite understand why Mars want to support it because the whole community exudes that self-reliance and independence - and ‘never say die’ attitude.”
Five years ago the community had hoped to get a substantial grant from the FA, but football’s governing body then suffered financial problems.
The pavilion team, which consists of three members each from Carperby Playing Fields Association, Carperby Football Team and Carperby cum Thoresby parish council, decided to carry out the project in three phases.
The first phase has been completed – a new access to the playing field site at the west end of the village and building a dry stone wall along it.
“Farmer Alastair Dinsdale donated the land for the access. If we didn’t have the access we would not have got planning permission,” explained Mr Oliver. “Mr Dinsdale loaned machinery from his farm and donated stones, and there was a grant from the Big Lottery.
“But it was the villagers who did the work. One, David Moore, estimated that it has taken 400 hours so far and there is still a small section to complete.”
With the guidance of some skilled dry stone wallers several other local people, have helped with that. “It’s a fabulous piece of building,” said parish councillor Steve Sheldon.
A consortium of three local builders won the blind tender and it was thought that it might be in place by April 2011.
Then would come the most expensive part of the project: installing mains connections, shower and changing rooms and other facilities.
As Mr Sheldon points out, the Carperby pavilion will be the first in Upper Wensleydale with showers – something many communities in the South of England have enjoyed for decades.