ARGYLE Community Trust is all set to make the biggest step in their 20-year history as the charitable arm of Plymouth Argyle Football Club.
The Trust has grown immeasurably from the humble beginnings of just a couple of coaches delivering soccer courses in the holidays or at after-school clubs.
The Trust now boasts over 40 full-time staff, based at Home Park, Carn Brea in Cornwall and North Devon, providing a full spectrum of programmes in sports participation, education, inclusion and health. In the past year alone, they have delivered over 9,000 sessions to people across Devon and Cornwall, and an age range from three to 89.
The natural progression for Argyle Community Trust has now arrived in the form of a proposed state-of-the-art sporting hub based at the former Ministry of Defence all-weather pitches in Manadon.
“We have been presented with a wonderful opportunity to participate in a major development and it will allow us to deliver a new level of services to the people of Plymouth, and the surrounding areas,” said Trust board member Martyn Starnes, the Argyle Chief Executive.
“The leadership of Argyle Community Trust with Mark Lovell and his colleagues has been the catalyst. The growth of our Trust began before I came to the club and it has continued exponentially in recent years.
“It is a wonderfully diverse service we provide through the Trust and we consider it to be the jewel in the crown of Plymouth Argyle. The Trust enables us to reach across Devon and Cornwall, providing services and programmes to a huge range of people.”
David Tall, Chairman of the Trust Board, added: “This is a hugely significant step forward for Argyle Community Trust and a proud day for everyone involved.
“There has been a tremendous amount of hard work behind the scenes to reach this stage and I pay tribute to Trust Manager Mark Lovell and his team for helping make this project a reality for the people of Plymouth.”
The project is being put together in partnership with Plymouth City Council, the Football Foundation and the England and Wales Cricket Board, with the overall objective of building a lasting sporting legacy for the community to enjoy.
Proposed facilities include office space for the Trust, an education suite, function rooms, grass and 3G pitches, a full cricket wicket and with future planning for a multi-use games area and cricket nets.
The building of the new four changing-room complex will comply with Football Foundation and England & Wales Cricket Board standards, encompassing a meeting, training and social area.
Council Leader and local ward councillor Ian Bowyer said: “We’re delighted to be working alongside the Argyle Community Trust and other partners to create what will be Plymouth’s first cricket and football development hub. This will significantly improve one of the priority sites in our Playing Pitch Plan and make a big difference to clubs, groups and the local community.
“The scheme will provide the high-quality facility residents deserve, as well as a much-needed indoor space for meetings and social activities. It will also mean there’s a new ground for the Plymouth Civil Service Cricket Club, which currently has to play outside the city boundary.
“By transferring the facility to the Trust as a community asset we can ensure local people have a say in its running but also remove the costs of ongoing maintenance from Council taxpayers.”
A Trust spokesman said: "As a Trust, we will always have a base at Home Park and continue to work in close tandem with the football club, as well as our sites in Carn Brea and North Devon, but the Manadon project will enable us to offer even better provisions and opportunities for everyone to access sport in our community.
"This is just step one in the project and we would like to thank all our partners for their hard work up to this stage, and we look forward to further updates as the development continues to progress."