A Kettering athletics club is to hold a formal switch-on next week to celebrate the installation of its new floodlights.
Kettering Town Harriers athletics club, in Thurston Drive, will mark the event with its first ever evening open meeting on Tuesday, April 5.
IPC World Championships silver medallist Jonathan Broome-Edwards and the third-ranked British triple jumper of all time, Nathan Douglas, who is also a European championships silver medalist, will both be present along with local dignitaries and England Athletics chief executive Chris Jones.
The new lighting, which was completed in February, will enable athletes at the club to train on the track in well-lit conditions throughout the year, giving the opportunity to boost the squad’s competitive performance, as well as supporting people of all abilities and backgrounds in taking part in athletics.
Kettering Town Harriers chairman Matt Brown, who was instrumental in driving forward the project since taking over as chairman at the start of 2015, said: “The new floodlighting has already made a massive difference to all the club coaches and athletes training during the dark winter nights.
“Lighting at the track has always been a challenge to the club’s development.
“The installation will enable us to grow the club and increase participation at all levels in all areas of our sport.
“It will also benefit the whole Kettering community and put us on a sure footing going forward.
“We will be able to host more events in future and already arranged for four evening floodlit open meetings this year.
“For the first time we have been able to host an evening veterans league match outside of a small window in the few weeks surrounding the longest night of the year.”
Kettering Town Harriers was awarded a grant in October 2015 from England Athletics, through Kettering Council which project-managed the development, with the grant supplemented by club funds.
Few running clubs have a heritage like Kettering Town Harriers, which was established more than 120 years ago in 1894, and this landmark development will help secure the success of its future athletes for many more years to come.
The club previously shared its floodlighting with the adjacent all-weather hockey pitch, which was only sufficient to light the main 100m straight, leading to severe restrictions in track capacity during the winter.
The club boasts a growing membership from under 11s to masters participating in athletics, with a healthy joggers and road runners section.
There is also a large number of talented juniors who have been hugely successful in recent years on the national stage, winning the Kettering Sports Awards Team of the Year two years running, and also scooping the Northamptonshire Sports Awards Community Team of the Year award in November 2015.
The lighting issue was one of the topics discussed with Chris Jones when he came to Kettering on one of his series of visits to athletics and running clubs across the country.
Mr Jones said; “I’m very much looking forward to seeing the difference these new floodlights make to the activities of Kettering Town Harriers first hand.
“When I last went to the club it was clear that the club was doing great work due to the impressive efforts of its volunteers but I have the same expectation as those volunteers I met – that these floodlights will make for a much better environment for athletes to train and compete in, that they will boost the efforts of volunteers and give a lift to the role that the club plays in its local community.
“Kettering Town Harriers have a fine track record in working hard to bring people into the sport and develop athletes.
“The club are reigning English National champions in the women’s under-20 4x400m, have had many athletes reaching the finals of National Championships and a recent winner of the prestigious English Schools National cross-country in Emily Williams, who went on to win her first England vest at the Home Countries Schools International in March 2016.
“We look forward to hearing of many more successes in the years to come.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with the club, Kettering Council, Sport England and the approved contractor Halliday Lighting on this project and to see such a fantastic result.
“I know the club and our staff are very grateful to the council for the way they have worked on this project and would commend them for that.”