Thanks to home improvement retailer Wickes, Reading FC and social enterprise VIY (Volunteer it Yourself) Laurel Park FC’s dressing rooms and clubhouse have been renovated by local young people, Academy players, members of the Reading FC Women team and club captain Paul McShane!
Once we discovered Laurel Park FC were victims of an email scam, which saw the club lose huge sums of money, we set about finding a way to help a local club in need.
Following a meeting between club representatives and Laurel Park FC we swiftly contacted Wickes and VIY to see what was possible. Wickes and VIY were quick off the mark to scout out the site and set up a work schedule.
Wickes, the official home improvement and building materials partner of the EFL, were well positioned to assist with the project.
Mitre, proud suppliers to the EFL,were equally delighted to offer their support and provided several kits so the young players will be bedecked in their traditional green and yellow strips ready for the new season.
More than 30 members of our Academy headed down to the site to pitch in as well as club captain Paul McShane and members of the Women’s team, including skipper Kirsty McGee.
The players traded their boots for brushes and happily helped the volunteers and mentors with the renovations.
Defender Paul McShane said, “It’s unfortunate what’s happened but everyone has come together in the local community and they’re doing a lot of work.”
Reading FC Women’s player Brooke Chaplen added “We’re all covered in paint but it’s good fun!”
Laurel Park FC’s Club Secretary Andy Dykes was quick to thank all the local clubs and community for their help. “The support we have received ever since the scam has been superb from other grassroots clubs right the way up to Reading FC. When Wickes and VIY first approached us, we were absolutely elated!”
The work was carried out in association with VIY, which enables young people aged 14-24 to learn trade and building skills by fixing local community buildings. The Reading Wickes store generously donated all of the materials required for the project free of charge, with Wickes also supporting the involvement of local professional tradespeople who served as mentors for the young volunteers.
There was a dual purpose to this venture, it enabled local young people to learn valuable trade skills whilst helping to transform the Laurel Park FC clubhouse into a refreshed, renovated space for players on match days as well as for the club to host events.
U18s Manager David Dodds, who oversaw the Academy boys handiwork said, “It’s important for the Academy boys to have that community spirit. It’s a really worthwhile cause and we’re keen to help out!”
When asked whether they preferred painting and decorating to pre-season training it seemed some of the young players rather enjoyed picking up a paint brush!
Adam Grantham, Reading FC Grounds Manager, also visited the site to offer some advice on the pitches as the club plan work on their own hallowed turf for the new season.
We were delighted to welcome representatives from Laurel Park FC as special guests to our opening home league fixture against Fulham. The young players formed a Guard of Honour and welcomed the players out for kick off, before putting their skills to the test in our Half Time Penalty Shoot Out on the Madejski Stadium pitch, as their friends and family watched on.
Whilst the past week has been both productive and entertaining at times it has certainly gone a long way to help Laurel Park FC carry out some much-needed work.
There is of course a serious underlying message and the local club were keen to share their story to help ensure others don’t find themselves in a similar position. Their club statement makes this very clear: "The one thing we are hopeful of about this whole exercise is that other people can use it as a warning. If you suspect anything is even slightly fishy then it almost certainly is. Make a phone call to check, click on the email address in the header to make sure it really is from the person they say they are, check and double check before handing over money or details."
It was a pleasure to help bring the project together and a real testament to the strength of community spirit within our club and the local area. Special thanks to Mitre, Wickes and VIY for their fantastic support.
All the best for the new season Laurel Park FC!