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Mayor’s charity to net cash boost as football fans offered the chance to own a piece of history

Thursday 17 May 2018

Football fans are being offered the chance to snap up their own patch of Ballymena United’s playing surface – while supporting vital lifeline services for vulnerable people within Mid and East Antrim.

Mayor’s charity to net cash boost as football fans offered the chance to own a piece of history

Work is set to get underway on the main arena at Ballymena Showgrounds, with the current pitch being replaced over the coming weeks.

And the redevelopment is to be used as an opportunity to net a cash windfall for the Mayor’s Charitable Cause, with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council selling sods of their pitch as keepsakes to loyal fans.

Supporters have been offered the chance to get their hands on their very own piece of the ground’s hallowed turf – with the £10 from each square raised going to support mental health and addiction groups throughout the Borough.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, said: “My charitable cause ‘Building Stronger People’ supports the work of the Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership’s Drugs and Alcohol Steering Group.

“Mental health and addiction issues are extremely important to me and there is a lot of great work happening across Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne.

“The selling off of the old surface will give football fans the chance to purchase a unique piece of sporting memorabilia and support local charities.

“For just £10, we will provide fans with their very own square foot of The Showgrounds pitch.

“The money raised will support the vital work of our local support groups, through Building Stronger People. I was really impressed by a similar venture by Larne Football Club recently.

“Addiction and mental health problems often go hand in hand and with Northern Ireland having the highest rate of suicide in the UK we need to ensure we do everything we can to promote what help is out there.

“Our citizens are at the heart of this and we have a duty of care to protect and help those most vulnerable in our society and help them to build a stronger future for themselves and their families.”

Anybody wishing to purchase a sod is asked to make payment at the reception desk at Ballymena Showgrounds before collecting their piece of the pitch at the venue.

The sections of the surface will be available to members of the public from Thursday 17 May.

The major improvement works are getting underway at Ballymena Showgrounds as part of a substantial investment in the premier sporting facility by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Contractors will arrive on the site next Monday (21 May) morning and over the coming days will remove the current pitch in order to revamp drainage and lay a new playing surface.

The Mayor added: “I am delighted the programme of extensive work on the pitch at Ballymena Showgrounds is beginning.

“This will improve drainage and the quality of the playing surface to ensure it meets European standards. 

“Ballymena Showgrounds is a multi-use venue and Council continues to work closely with all users to ensure it remains one of Northern Ireland’s premier facilities.

“In the past year, the venue has hosted several top sporting events, including the SuperCupNI, Uefa Women’s Under-19 Championship and World Stock Rod Championships.

“We look forward to more superb events taking place at Ballymena Showgrounds once the improvements have been carried out.”

The work is set to be completed in September of this year in order to ensure minimal disruption to Ballymena Showgrounds users.

Image: The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim pitches in to help raise funds for charity