Hurst Bowling Club 'gutted' after tree branch crushes toilet block

A bowls club has been left ‘gutted’ after a branch from a large tree ‘completely crushed’ their toilet block during Storm Eunice, leaving them without toilets.

This is another blow for the historic Hurst Bowling Club after it discovered it had missed out on funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to kickstart a project for a new clubhouse to replace their existing ‘very old’ one.

During Storm Eunice last month, a ‘huge branch’ from a horse chestnut tree fell onto the toilet block, which houses toilets for men and women.

The roof was smashed and a chunk also taken out of a side wall. The toilets themselves are still intact but are covered in debris.

Ladies captain Linda Bowes explained the old building has been ‘shaken to its foundations’.

The incident happened just weeks before the start of the season in April.

Linda said: “We are gutted. I mean just before the season starts. There’s loads of games coming up and we’ve got a smashed to pieces toilet block.”

She explained the club does not yet know how much it will cost to rebuild the toilets or whether it will be covered by insurance.

She added that whatever happens, the club is ‘bound’ to have to use some of its £70,000 fundraising earmarked for a project for a new and improved clubhouse.

The current wooden clubhouse is about 120 years old and showing its age, Linda explained.

The new clubhouse would cost between £200,000 and £250,000 in total.

The club, which celebrates its 275th anniversary this year, previously applied for funding from The National Lottery Community Fund of £140,000.

If successful they would also have received £50,000 from Sport England for the project.

However, in September Linda said the club was ‘absolutely gutted’ to discover the bid had been unsuccessful.

“You can’t believe what a big blow it was to us,” she said.

It has now submitted another application.

The club is having an open day on Saturday, April 23.

For more information about the club and the open day contact Eric Bowes at ebowes7@gmail.com.

A spokesperson for The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We understand Hurst Bowling Club were disappointed with our decision not to fund their project. This was because our grants are highly sought after with demand exceeding the money available.

"Unfortunately, this means we have to make difficult decisions, as we are simply unable to fund all the worthwhile projects we receive applications from.

"We are grateful for the patience and support they showed while we explored a range of options with them regarding their application.”

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