Read School seeks help in pitch battle

Patrick Gouldsbrough
September 10, 2021

Read School Drax is calling on the local community to ‘save its cricket pitch’ after launching a £40,000 fundraising target - looking to secure the long term future of the “vital sporting asset”.

For over 140 years, the historic school has been competing in cricket matches, ever since the first-recorded match was played in 1881 between Drax Grammar School and Howden Youths. In 1927, inspired by the 40 years of cricket that had gone before it, headmaster of the school at the time, EV Watkins, purchased and converted 10-acres of arable land into a cricket field - the sporting track that has stood the test of time and inspired generations of young sportspeople to get involved in cricket ever since. Despite existing for over 95 years, the current cricket pitch at Read School is becoming tougher to maintain year-on-year, which became evident during a recent 140th-anniversary test cricket match hosted in July this year.

In recent months, a huge amount of work has already been accomplished by local expert Mark Atkins, Read head of sport, John Matthews, and other people connected to the school. This has included the group eradicating weeds and tilling the soil, so the pitch is in tip-top condition. However, even the work of volunteers and dedicated staff has a limit, and the next stage of the work requires funding that the school or grants can’t provide. A clay piped drainage system, originally installed in the 1920s, is now overdue for a replacement to provide much-needed drainage for the often-flooded field; something that could cost as much as £40,000. As a result of the fundraising estimate, Read School have already started appealing to the local community, including groups and businesses. With the fundraising in full-swing, the donation effort got off to an “ideal” start last week, according to the headteacher of the school, Ruth Ainley, when an ex-pupil pledged £10,000 to the effort.

However, the school are now calling on others to follow suit and donate what they can by visiting Not letting the opportunity pass them by, though, Read School are giving donors an incentive to back the cricket pitch fundraising by offering a ‘unique opportunity'. Anyone that pledges £50 to the cause will be added to a list of donors and commemorated in a plaque displayed within the school’s cricket pavilion. To donate to the cause, email with your details and send a cheque for £50 made payable to Read School - 10 Acre Field Fundraising Appeal or via BACS to The Read School Current Fees Account: Sort Code 20-99-56 and Account No 40293806.

Headteacher of the school, Ruth Ainley, said: “With a long history of cricket at the school, and the cricket fields a key part of the local community, we kindly ask for help to ensure they are in good working order now and for generations to come. “For over two years, the front playing field has endured a combination of a chafer grub infestation and turf tearing by crows and moles. The field also suffers from a longstanding drainage issue and has been sadly unusable for sport for much of the year. “It has become an eyesore and waste of space where the school, local community and other schools could enjoy various sporting activities now freedoms are returning after the pandemic. “We urgently need to raise more funds to save the fields although considerable progress has been accomplished through the voluntary contribution of time, equipment and expertise by parents and staff for which the school is extremely grateful. “Please support this project to ensure the playing fields are restored to their former glory for school, community, and local schools’ outreach use.”

TOP: An archived photo of the ten acre field in 1927. (02-09-131 SU)

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