PROUD campaigners have insisted the hard work will continue after a new sporting facility was opened in Crewe.
An all-weather pitch was officially opened at the Cumberland Arena, Thomas Street, on Friday. The ceremony marked the culmination of years of hard work for a dedicated group of fundraisers who worked tirelessly to secure £400,000 for the project.
But as delighted children streamed onto the surface, action group leader Hamilton Smith vowed: 'We still have much work to do. We must get to the schools and persuade youngsters to come down here. If they are not interested in football, we can give them long jumps, high jumps, running - whatever they want.
'The impact this facility will have will be tremendous. It is magic to see kids playing out there and the whole community will use it.'
The pitch is part of a long-running campaign to bring modern sporting facilities to the town, launched by the Chronicle in 2000 and taken on by a band of campaigners.
The nearby running track has been redeveloped and a first-class grass pitch will be ready next year. Pupils and special needs children from the Cheshire School of Integrated Sports and Arts played demonstration matches, while dignitaries including Crewe and Nantwich Mayor, Cllr Maureen Grant looked on.
Crewe and Nantwich MP Gwyneth Dunwoody and David McDermott of the Football Foundation, which put more than £250,000 towards the project, declared the pitch open.
Mrs Dunwoody said: 'We got very close to losing this facility, but that will never be allowed to happen now. At times we can have 5,000 children here.'
Mr McDermott added: 'It is a great, tremendous facility. It is not just about sport, it will mean social inclusion for many people.'