Memorial pitch plans for former Kettering Town and Rushden & Diamonds player scrapped

Gail Butcher

Gail Butcher

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The mother of a former Kettering Town and Rushden & Diamonds footballer who died in his sleep says plans to build a pitch in his honour have been dashed.

Gail Butcher launched a bid to create an all-weather pitch and clubhouse in the area around Delapre and Far Cotton in Northampton in 2011 to stand as a legacy for her son Richard Butcher, who died at the age of 29.

She was initially told by Northampton Council she could use a flat parcel of land on Eagle Drive and began drawing up outline plans for the pitch.

She has since managed to raise £40,000 for the Richard Butcher Memorial Trust to support the project.

But earlier this year she was told the Eagle Drive site was no longer suitable – after archeologists revealed the oldest surviving cannonball had been found nearby, marking it as an area of historical importance.

At the time the council said it had “offered a number of options” to Mrs Butcher as an alternative, including land behind Far Cotton Amateur Boxing Club, “which she has chosen to decline.”

She has always maintained the other parcels of land offered to her were not appropriate for a pitch.

But four years down the line, the council has now also conceded that no other land in the Far Cotton area is suitable.

In a letter to Mrs Butcher, the authority wrote: “The council has raised a number of possible alternative sites for discussion but we have established that these are not able to meet the requirements of the trust.”

This week Mrs Butcher said she was “devastated” by the final decision.

She said: “We could have worked with the council, English Heritage and the battlefield trust to provide sports pitches to protect the future green space, if indeed it is the battlefield site, and even have provided a joint heritage or battlefield centre as part of the changing room build.”

But she said the charity board met recently to discuss the council’s decision and has decided that the £40,000 raised to date will be now be given to other youth football projects in memory of her son.

She said a decision on how the money is spent will be made in the new year.

She said: “We want those who gave so generously to know that the money is still all there and we want to ensure that it is spent as closely to meet the original purpose as possible.”

Details of the charity can be found at http://www.richardbutcherfamilymemorial.com.