New Claires Court School facilities can 'help inspire the sporting stars of tomorrow'

Former Claires Court School student, Ellie Rayer, left with Shona McCallin, after winning bronze with GB’s women’s hockey team at Tokyo 2020


In an effort to further inspire the sporting stars of tomorrow, Claires Court School is in the process of applying to build new cricket facilities at the school’s Ridgeway site.

Head of the junior boys’ school, James Wilding, said the school was keener than ever to develop sporting opportunities for its pupils, having watched the wonderful performances of the athletes taking part in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

One of them, former student Ellie Rayer, will be back at the senior girls’ school on Monday, to speak with students and open a newly refurbished library. Ellie won a magnificent bronze medal with Team GB’s Women’s Hockey team after they defeated India in the third-place play-off match.

“As Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez showed last weekend at the US Open tennis finals, international competition and stardom beckons just as adulthood begins, so school is where training and competition has to take place,” said Mr Wilding.

“Our town and its sporting clubs therein has a wonderful history of supporting the development of athletes of all hues, let alone the achievements of those from our own school, such as Ellie Rayer who won Olympic Bronze with Women’s Hockey at the Olympics. That’s something Claires Court certainly chooses to continue further with our boys and girls for many years to come. And we do that best by sharing the development of facilities for all, as our partner sports clubs are sure to testify.”

However, the submission of plans for new cricket facilities can also be of wider benefit to the community, with North Maidenhead Cricket Club still searching for a new home ground after being prevented from using Summerleaze Park over a dispute with landlord, Peter Prior, over their tenure. The club had hoped to resolve the situation with Mr Prior, however, new tennis facilities are now being built on the site of the former ground, and if they’re to survive as a club moving forward they’ll have to find a new ground and facilities on which to play.

The school proposes to use only a quarter of the 48-acre site for sport, with the remainder for agricultural use. The school already has changing facilities and toilets so there are no plans for any additional buildings, lighting, or permanent parking facilities.

Plans were submitted to the Royal Borough in August and can be viewed on the council’s planning portal. While the development would benefit the school and its pupils, it could also save North Maidenhead cricket club and Majid Khan, chairman of the club is grateful for the school’s support.

“Our club has been in existence for over 100 years and we used to compete in the Thames Valley Cricket League as well as the ECB National Club Cup, the CCC Cup and the Three Counties 20/20 cup. Although we have both Adult and Junior members, we currently do not have access to our own facilities and are very grateful for the support Claires Court offered over the summer with hosting our junior side on their existing pitches. Without additional help, our historic club doesn’t have grounds to be based on or support for the future. We hope that this is the start of a positive partnership and that planning for the change of use is approved,” he added.

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