Coronavirus fears force cancellation of fund raising festival


Fears around the spread of the Coronavirus have forced Olicanian Cricket Club to cancel a three-day festival designed to raise funds to complete a new pavilion.


The club, which lost its pavilion in an arson attack last summer, had been planning a Spirit of Cricket Festival in September and had approached former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff and former Strictly dancer Natalie Lowe to take part.


The plan was to erect a marquee, which could hold up to 450 people, on the club’s Denton Road ground and for three days of events which would appeal to different sections of the local community.


Mr Mark Dexter, one of the club’s Trustees said: “Friday was going to be an evening of cricket talk hosted by former Sky Sport Cricket Correspondent Tim Abraham. We had approached Andrew Flintoff and had also looked at whether we could get Ben Stokes, the current BBC Sports Personality of the Year, to attend.


"Saturday was going to be a Festival Ball and we had spoken to Natalie Lowe who was very interested in hosting the event and performing a couple of dance routines. Sunday afternoon was going to be a Songs From The Shows/Opera event with singers from Opera North.


“Sadly, the situation around Coronavirus has changed significantly in the last few days, forcing us to re-think. We felt that we would have had to drive the bulk of the ticket sales in April, May and June - just when the Coronavirus outbreak is expected to be at its peak. By September, the situation may have eased but, given that large gatherings of people are going to be discouraged in the coming months, we thought it was going to be a hard sell in the present climate,” he added.


Bradford Council is currently considering a planning application for a new pavilion and the club hopes it may receive consent in the next month.


“We estimate it will cost £350,000 to build the new pavilion and, whilst we have funds from an insurance pay-out and the generous donations we received in the immediate aftermath of the fire, we still think we’ll be about £75,000 short,” he said.


“From day one, we’ve wanted to get back on our feet through our own efforts and this event was part of that process. It would have involved a huge amount of work by volunteers, but, as well as it being a fundraiser, it was also going to represent a thank you to the local community for its support. The fact that Coronavirus has come along is very disappointing but we’ve faced lots of challenges in the last six months and this is just another one to tackle,” he added.


The club hopes to start building its new pavilion this summer, if planning permission is granted. The plan was for the building to be completed in time for the start of the 2021 season but, with the cancellation of the festival event, that may now be in doubt.


“I suspect we’re going to have to approach various organisations to see if any grant aid can help us to get over the line,” said Mr Dexter.


“We also have a list of people and businesses who, in the immediate aftermath of the fire, offered to do jobs on any rebuild free of charge. We hope to take them up on their kind offers. As a committee, we are hugely invested in our club. But we also think, because of what happened to us, that the wider public is rooting for us as well and we’d welcome any support at this time.”


Anyone able to support the club is urged to contact Mr Dexter on the following email address: mark@dextermedia.co.uk

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