Posted on March 21, 2023 by Categories: Uncategorized

Ainslie’s Pavilion Project is a personal community project I’ve supported since 2015, when very sadly, my friend Ainslie Duffell died after fighting breast cancer for 12 years. Ainslie had fought the disease from her mid 30s even though she was initially given just a year to live. She was utterly heroic.

I blogged about this in October, when I announced that my 2022 Christmas auction was back, after being put on hold for a year. That event raised £1,500 to put in the community pot to create a living legacy in Ainslie’s name.

I knew Ainslie as she was married to Phil, a local sports journalist who was a colleague when we both worked on the Swindon Advertiser back in the 1990s. They became good friends, and then Phil moved to HTV in Bristol and a year or so later I joined him there. He worked on sports coverage and I worked in current affairs. Our friendship grew stronger, and they were both godparents to one of our children.

When Ainslie was diagnosed with cancer her outlook was one of ‘living’ for the moment and doing all she could to live her best life for as long as possible. She took part in ground-breaking treatment on her liver and she showed us all what real heroism looks like.

After her death, Phil, and their son Alex, decided that a great legacy for Ainslie, would be to refurbish the cricket pavilion at Purton Cricket Club, the oldest club in Wiltshire (over 200 years old). While she was well enough, Ainslie had visited many times to watch Phil and Alex play cricket. However, when she was wheelchair bound, it was impossible for her to visit the ground, because there was no wheelchair access to the site at all, no disabled toilet, or in fact, any facilities for girls at all.

Ainslie wrote about this in her journal and her disappointment about being unable to witness important moments when Alex played cricket or when Phil was playing. Phil had been made redundant from HTV alongside me and then re-trained later as a cricket coach in Wiltshire, something he did around caring for Ainslie.

By refurbishing the pavilion, the main aim is to give access to people in wheelchairs, people with disabilities, and proper facilities for girls. This is no easy ask, the site is isolated, the pavilion outdated with no mains services and a covenant on the land which will have to be removed.

Our initial aim was to raise seed funding of £50,000 by 2020 to coincide with the 200th birthday of the cricket club. Once we’d hit our target for the seed fund, it meant we could then apply for grants to do the main building works. We managed to hit the target, but then the pandemic came along and got in the way of the project moving forward. Everything stalled for the last couple of years.

Even though the lion’s share of the fund raising has been done by Phil and Alex, through my own efforts I have raised about £8,000.

We obviously want to get on with the work, because it has already taken us eight years to get to this point.

However, since the pandemic, partly due to a surge in building during the pandemic and home improvement projects afterwards, a high demand plus problems with shipping materials and many other factors – the cost of building materials has risen significantly.

The latest statistics released by the Building Materials and Components show that the average annual building materials prices for 2022 were 54.4% higher than 2015, and increased a further 25% from 2021 to 2022! And, the Federation of Master Builders say that the majority of builders are expecting to see building material price rises in the 1st quarter of 2023 too. Plus, this does not include the price of labour.

Also, we have decided that it makes sense for this to be a sustainable project, and if practical, will include sustainable materials, and sustainable sources of energy such as solar panels. This also means that the cost will be higher.  However, by using these materials, the cost of utilities such as energy and water will be reduced, which is good in the long term for the pavilion.

To help boost the funds further, I and Lis, my bestie and business buddy are having a celebration to celebrate the fact that, this year, we have both been in business for 15 years. Our 15th Birthday Business Bash 2023 will take place on 6th October.

The event will take place at Marsh Farm, Royal Wootton Bassett, where we will have a two-course meal, two amazing guest speakers, Chris and Louise Hunt Skelley. Chris and Louise are both Paralympians, with wonderful stories to tell about the joys and challenges they encountered along the way.

During the evening, there will also be an auction and a raffle, and people can make a donation to have photographs taken. We hope to donate a percentage of the ticket sales, and aim to raise at least £500. Look out across my social media for the booking link when the event goes live or book your place direct by emailing 

*Picture of Alex & Phil Duffell.

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