Ambitious Harrowby United discuss future plans following Grantham Journal Business Awards win
A football club transformed its facilities during lockdown with the help of grants and the efforts of community volunteers.
Harrowby United won Best Social Enterprise at the Grantham Journal Business Awards, as they made vast improvements to their clubhouse and outdoor facilities during a challenging year which has seen two league campaigns curtailed by Covid-19.
The Arrows also continued their support of the community, delivering 100 food packages to vulnerable people during lockdown.
The category was judged by Cameron Ford, of Reflect Recruitment.
He said: “The committee and supporters of Harrowby United Football Club have, in the last year and despite the pandemic, completely transformed their club, clubhouse, facilities and future.
“Founded in 1949, the current committee has an ambitious five-year structured plan, is forging ahead with it and is in the process of a total transformation from a small local football club into a genuine centre of the local community.
“What they have achieved this year is just incredible and there is so much more to come.”
Commercial manager Amber Kitching discussed what winning the award meant to the club, and their ambitious plans going forward.
How did the club react to winning the award after a tough year?
Recognition of any kind is always a great feeling, but because of the circumstances of the year it feels like a huge achievement for us. As a sport club, awards usually come with performances on the pitch, so acknowledgement for the incredible amount of work that goes on behind the scenes from all our volunteers is remarkable.
Why do you think the club stood out to the judges?
Over the last 18 months, the club has gone from strength to strength. We took a lot of time to re-evaluate our priorities which has inspired a strong commercial plan for growth. Every aspect of our club is now focused on how we can improve and develop into a true community hub for the local community.
We have linked up with many local businesses and community groups, as well as reforming our youth and Sunday league teams, placing our club at the heart of the area.
For us it’s important that Harrowby United is seen as a welcoming environment for all and the work that has been done is all about making that happen.
How have the club adapted since Covid and helped the community?
It’s not been easy over the year, with many stops and starts with both the football and the social club. We have adapted to the unusual circumstances the best we can and under the guidance given.
What are the club’s plans for the coming year?
As a club, we don’t stand still anymore. The football season will begin again in August, so in the meantime we have the opportunity to do some more work around the ground.
We continue to look at ways we can improve the look of the ground, which includes some further new fencing, new seats in the stand and new turnstiles.
We are also in the beginning stages of planning a new extension to the clubhouse, which we hope will drastically improve the provisions we can offer for the teams as well as hospitality and catering.
As a committee we have a five-year plan for the club, so we hope to continue to see further improvements at Dickens Road year on year.
How have the committee and local community risen to the challenges of Covid?
What a challenge this year has been for all. It’s been incredible how all people, businesses and the community have risen up to tackle this situation. We could have shut up in March and not stepped foot in the place until football restarted in August, but that isn’t in our nature and it’s not the Harrowby way.
Everyone gave as much time as they could over lockdown to make improvements to the club, which saw us completely transform our clubhouse and ground last year. Each time there was a new restriction, or the games were halted we got straight back to work and continued the best we could.
We couldn’t ask for better volunteers, managers, players and businesses who supported us through the most trying of times for everyone involved. Our priority has always been to provide a community hub and this year showed how important that can be.