A West Cumbrian sports club has hit its £10,000 target to help it kick back at COVID in less than seven days.
Aspatria Rugby Union Club said by the end of the current lockdown, it will have lost 99 per cent of its expected income and called on the community to help.
Townsfolk rallied round the club, which was founded in 1875, and donated to an online crowdfunding campaign to help it, when it is allowed, return to rugby and be prepared to add more safety measures to make sure it is COVID-secure.
As well as rugby, its Bower Park home is used by several town groups and organisations, Beacon Hill School and it is also used by the community for dozens of functions and meetings a year.
The crowdfunder – which still has 29 days to run – will be supplemented by a 50 per cent match of the initial target by Sport England.
Brian Martin, of the club’s committee, said: “We cannot say thank you enough to all of our amazing supporters, both near and far, for your response to our Aspatria Rugby Club Kick Back at COVID campaign.
“Any donation, large or small will go 100 per cent towards the future of Aspatria RUFC and protect its facilities for use by everyone.
“It is both humbling and encouraging to receive such generous support during these times.
“We would therefore encourage all Cumbrian sports clubs, who have been unable to generate the usual income, brought about by COVID, to look at what options are available to you.
“Like setting up a Crowdfunding page, with zero platform fees, and assuming certain criteria’s are met, then Sports England will match up to 50 per cent of the initial target.”
The last match played at Bower Park was on March 14.
The club said: “With coronavirus ending both the rugby season, before it even began, and the ability to generate income from mid-March, we need to look at other avenues to secure our future.
“We have missed all senior and junior rugby games, sponsor and social events and the overall camaraderie this club offers.
“On top of that, the usual facilities hired free to the community for birthdays, charities etc have sadly had to be cancelled which has decimated bar income.
“But we haven’t rested on our laurels. The first action was to reduce or stop all non-essential expenditure.
“What was initially anticipated to last a couple of months, we are currently in month 10 of virtual lockdown.
“Excellent work by our team of volunteers ensured all non-essential items such as energy consumption and stock levels were reduced and good management sees us ticking over each month.
“In the summer when restrictions temporarily eased, several socially distanced gatherings took place with an excellent presentation evening for the 19/20 season taking place as well as several Saturdays where we were able to take advantage of the good weather.
“Come October and there was light at the end of the tunnel where were able to organise a inter club touch tournament and social.
“However, come October 31, we were again locked down and have remained that way ever since.
“In the meantime, our team of volunteers continue to maintain our facilities and grounds so we are in the best position going forward when able to.”
Brian added: “Apart from thanking all those who have contributed so far, a special thank you goes to Jack Clegg for the momentum he has created on social media, and Mel Hanley for his little black book of past players.
“Once a Black Red, always a Black Red.”