St John’s Field, home of the Western Stars Sports Club and more commonly known as Dandy Town was the scene of a “ceremonial ground breaking” that “will result in upgrades to the field and club operations”.
Speaking at a news conference held at the field on Thursday (Feb 11), Public Works Minister Lieutenant Colonel David Burch said the joint initiative also grants Gorham’s “access to an unused strip of Government owned land for a new roadway”.
Located at this site since the early 1970’s, Colonel Burch said Western Stars “have faced several challenges during that time” as “St Johns Field has been plagued with uneven grounds leading to frequent flooding” for many years.
“The clubhouse, also erected in the 1970’s is in dire need of refurbishment to assist the club in catering to its ever expanding community programmes.
“It was an easy decision for me to make, when Gorham’s first wrote in December 2018 to propose an arrangement that would benefit both their business and Western Stars,” he added.
He also noted that “Gorham’s want access to an unused, densely overgrown strip of Government owned land to the west of their property for a new roadway to connect the front and back areas of the property. In exchange for which they would provide significant support and upgrades to the field and club operations”.
The Minister was joined by Premier David Burt, area MP Michael Weeks both members of Dandy Town, Andrew Mackay General Manager of Gorham’s Limited, and other Gorham’s representatives, Rod Ferguson, Kirk Kitson and Henry Durham, Devar Boyles, President, Wayne Campbell, Vice President, Shawnette Perott –Secretary and Joanna Darrell Management Committee member of Western Stars Sports Club.
Since the first announcement was made on October 30th, 2019, Col Burch said the ceremonial ground breaking on Thursday (Feb 11), marked the “mobilization” of the ongoing project “with the aim of starting construction on the 1st of March”.
“Construction will take approximately nine (9) months after which the grass seeding of the field will follow. It is anticipated that it will take roughly a year for the grass to grow sufficiently for use. In total therefore, we are looking at about two years from start to finish,” the Minister said.
“To say that we are delighted with this arrangement would be an understatement.
“I would like to thank Gorham’s for their support of this initiative and Western Stars for their willingness to work with Gorham’s to make these improvements to the club premises.
“Likewise, Western Stars are well known for their unwavering commitment to the Pembroke West community.
“I am certain that these improvements will be welcomed by the community and be of benefit to the programmes that will be conducted from here.”
Highlights of the Minister’s remarks:
Western Stars Sports Club has been a permanent part of the Pembroke West community for a number of years. Gorham’s too has been a part of this community for more than 80 years. They share adjoining properties – so it makes sense for them to be good neighbours to each other – and I think it’s fair to say they are.
Western Stars have occupied this site since the early 1970’s and have faced several challenges during that time. For many years St. Johns Field has been plagued with uneven grounds leading to frequent flooding. As a result, the club has experienced occasions when the field has been unusable for training, community events or recreational activities.
The clubhouse, also erected in the 1970’s is in dire need of refurbishment to assist the club in catering to its ever expanding community programmes. Those include senior, junior and pee wee football and cricket programmes for both boys and girls. In fact, the former financial secretary, the late Mr. Anthony Manders, was one of the many outstanding athletes coming out of this club.
With that background – it was an easy decision for me to make, when Gorham’s first wrote in December 2018 to propose an arrangement that would benefit both their business and Western Stars.
Simply stated, Gorham’s want access to an unused, densely overgrown strip of Government owned land to the west of their property for a new roadway to connect the front and back areas of the property. In exchange for which they would provide significant support and upgrades to the field and club operations.
This is the start of the field work as discussions are continuing about the plans for the building.
Premier David Burt reaffirmed the Government’s commitment “to strengthening our community clubs island-wide, as they play a vital role in our social fabric, and provide critical services to our communities”.
“We have done this most recently through the awarding of grants to support capital development upgrades and to support youth programmes within local clubs,” said Mr Burt.
“The programmes and initiatives community and sporting organisations create for young people, seniors and others help our communities to thrive.
“As a club member and local MP, I am proud and excited to celebrate this occasion and this important, mutually beneficial, partnership between neighbours. I also look forward to seeing the benefits that Western Stars Sports Club and the community will reap from these upgrades and the invaluable support being given.
“Well done to everyone involved.”
He also noted that “the field is long overdue for resurfacing”, saying: “We all are looking forward to seeing the finished product, which will go a long way to making this a first-class facility.
“This is a partnership and a project that will enhance this community,” said Mr Burt.
“I want to assure local residents that all plans going forward will be done in consultation with them, the club, and the Government so that residents can present their feedback and voice any concerns.
“We are focused on making our communities stronger, and we will accomplish this goal together.”