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Paultons Cricket Club officials thank donors for more than £17,000 worth of help after 'arson' attack

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CRICKETERS have rallied round to raise more than £17,000 to help a New Forest club rise from the ashes after it fell victim to a suspected arson attack.

Paultons Cricket Club, in Copythorne, was devastated last Thursday morning to find a van was driven onto the pitch and set alight near the pavilion, destroying a changing room and pool room.

Structural engineers have not yet determined if any more of the site can be saved.

Firefighters at the scene
Firefighters at the scene

Fires crews battled for about two hours to contain the emergency, and Hampshire police asked for witnesses to get in touch.

Paultons CC chair Mark Lamb said the entire club had been left “absolutely gutted” by what had happened – with a host of neighbouring teams pledging help.

Ryan Collingwood, who plays for the club, launched a fundraising webpage, hoping to raise around £20,000 – and this week the total had gone past £17,000.

“The response we have received has been way over and beyond what we thought possible, and it has been such a positive boost to everyone during this difficult time,” Ryan said.

“I personally can’t say thank you enough to everyone who has sent messages of support.”

Mark said the club was set to meet with the English Cricket Board (ECB) to discuss support, adding: “It really has lifted the mood in the club.”

It's unclear how much of the club can be saved
It's unclear how much of the club can be saved

An ECB spokesperson said: “The ECB has been liaising with Paultons Cricket Club and the Hampshire Cricket Board in relation to the suspected arson attack.

“We will continue to work with them and discuss the support they require as they seek to rebuild.”

Among those who have already helped are Steve Vear, chair of the Southern Premier Cricket League.

He gave £100, adding: “On behalf of the Southern Premier Cricket League – we stand ready to support you in any way we can.”

The damaged pavilion was built in 1957 but the club’s roots stretch back as far back as 1890. A focal point of the community, the club runs three adult sides and a number of youth outfits, from under-9s to under-15s.

Anyone with information should contact Hampshire police on 101, quoting crime reference number 44220035829, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

To donate to the club, visit bit.ly/3s83YKc

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