Blog homepage   >   Community   >  Cala's £1,000 donation helps Hitchin Social Enterprise host Festival of Sport

A social enterprise in North Hertfordshire is celebrating after receiving a £1,000 donation from our Community Bursary, which will allow the community group to host the district’s largest adult sporting festival this summer, following 18 months of pandemic disruption.

Forming part of our Community Bursary Initiative, our donation has enabled Hitchin-based social enterprise BackToSchoolival to host the North Herts Rugby and Netball Festival 2021, bringing the local sporting community together this summer for a day of netball and rugby fixtures.

The event took place on 14th August, and was free to attend for the local community, giving them an opportunity to enjoy the sports, as well as local food, live music and entertainment.

The festival’s organiser, Adam Howard said: “We started the BacktoSchool CIC in 2015 with an aim of getting the school’s ex-pupils back together for rugby and netball games – almost like a reunion. From there, it really went from strength to strength, growing into a large event for the whole community, but Covid really put a pause on the activities and sporting fixtures generally across the county.

“Sport isn’t just important for the physical and mental wellbeing of those taking part, but it’s also intrinsic to the fabric of what ties communities together. That’s why we’re really excited to be able to hold the festival this year, thanks to support from our sponsors, and see the coming together of the community again after successive lockdowns.

“Donations from our sponsors, including Cala and Mason Navarro Pledge, have really allowed the event to grow and make it a special day for volunteers and organisers - we had 200 people playing in 2015 and expect to have more than 600 taking part this year.

“Even though the outdoor festival will be taking place after the easing of Covid restrictions, we’ll still be looking for people to socially distance, and we’ve got hand sanitiser stations situated across the site.

“£500 of the funding from Cala has gone towards sponsoring the netball tournament, ensuring all players have new bibs, balls and engraved trophies, with the remainder put towards sponsorship of the live music stage.

“It’ll be a perfect opportunity for people to come down on a weekend, to watch some excellent sporting fixtures, before enjoying some good music with some nice food and a beer in the evening. We can’t wait!”

Florrie Jones, netball development officer for England Netball in Hertfordshire, said: “We cannot wait to get back to full netball tournaments at the North Herts Rugby and Netball tournament!

“It’s been a long wait, but the tournament should be a brilliant way to welcome netball back properly. We are so pleased so many teams will be in attendance, especially so many local Herts teams and the interest in the tournament from teams shows the fire still burns brighter than ever before for grassroots netball.’

Our donation follows our purchase of land from North Hertfordshire College’s Hitchin campus, which will see the development of 116 homes and public open space. The sale of the site will also enable a £12m investment by the college into new state-of-the-art sporting and teaching facilities.

The new sports facilities will be available to both students and the wider community. The existing outdated sports hall and squash court building will be demolished and replaced with a modern multi-purpose sports hall, gym and changing areas, a new 3G football pitch and sports science teaching facilities.

Glenn Copper, Sales and Marketing Director for our North Home Counties region, said: “The last 12 months have been particularly hard for the charity and volunteering sectors, but also for those of us who love our sport, with many groups seeing reduced funding.

“As we’re developing nearby to the college and supporting them in the delivery of the new sporting facilities, we really felt the sponsorship of the festival aligned with our long-term strategy of supporting the local community.

“This is just one example of how Cala strives to make a positive and lasting contribution to the communities in which we build. We know that this year’s Bursary will mean a great deal to the charities selected, and we can’t wait to follow their progress and see how the donations will make a real difference to local people.

Our Community Bursary initiative invites charities, voluntary organisations and community groups to apply for a share of funding from Cala, with more than 400 worthy causes now having received over £400,000 since Cala launched the initiative in 2016.

Our new development in Hitchin, Hurlocke Fields, is set to launch in early 2022 which, once complete, will offer a series of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments as well as 2,3 & 4 bedroom homes. Further details to be announced.   

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