England captain Dylan Hartley poised for visit to North Walsham RFC
- Credit: PA
North Walsham Rugby Club will welcome a very special guest to Scottow on Sunday - England captain Dylan Hartley.
The 33-year-old Northampton Saints hooker will be lending a hand during the club's 'Makeover Weekend'.
On both Saturday and Sunday volunteers will be at Scottow continuing the work to improve facilities and get the ground ready for the new season in September. Hartley's visit is national recognition for the improvements the club are making and he brings with him a £3,000 grant from the NatWest Rugby Force programme, one of just six available nationwide.
There is quite a transformation going on at Scottow Park. Not only has a lot of effort gone into improving the playing surfaces but there have been enhancements too to the woodlands, walking and jogging tracks and playground. The viewing facilities for the disabled, known as "the veranda", are also being upgraded, with a new roof and decking.
Meanwhile work has begun to install a lift in the clubhouse, enabling everyone to use the first floor social facilities. This £61,000 project, which includes a meeting room, will complete an upgrade to the upstairs, an improved kitchen and extended bar having been operational since 2016.
Funding comes from a Rugby Football Union interest free loan, £10,000 from North Norfolk District Council's Big Society Fund and a £31,000 grant by the European Union's Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. Already well used by Scottow Parish Council and schools, the club hopes these improved facilities will also lead to its increased use as a venue for community organisations, businesses and private events.
"It's all very exciting" said chairman Keith Jarvis, "I cannot thank our volunteers enough, without them none of this would happen."
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Hartley began his Test career in 2009 and since then has racked up almost a century of caps. He has been in three Six Nations winning squads, captaining the side that won the Grand Slam in 2016 and then beat Australia 3 -0 down under. Known for his fearless approach and dynamic leadership he has also won six national titles with Northampton.