Five-Minute Marvels: Fundraising Hat-trick Brings £130,000 for Community Astroturf

School Improvement Community Engagement England
28 September 2018
Realising that they could give back to the community in a huge way, the Friends of Heathbrook undertook a massive fundraising campaign for a state-of-the-art astroturf pitch. We take a look at how they raised the staggering sum…

Who are they? 

Heathbrook Primary School teaches around 350 students in a densely packed area of London. With over a hundred sports teams of adults and children within a close radius, there was massive potential for a brand new facility, one that could service the whole community. We’re fortunate to have a large outdoor play area and wanted to realise its huge potential for the children and surrounding communities,” says Friends of Heathbrook Chair Roy Wilson. At the time, their sports pitch – which had a two-metre slope stretching from one end to the other, and tired old concrete surfaces – was far from ideal. 

What did they do?

In 2015, inspired by school staff and the PE department, the Friends of Heathbrook definitively decided to raise funds to help transform Heathbrook’s outdoor sports area into an all-weather facility. Our research showed that an astroturf is a proven and consistent revenue earner as it can be accessed by the wider community, including being used as a training ground,” Roy explains. Our aim was to raise £130,000, and we put together a detailed proposal showing the benefits it would bring to the children and the local communities.”

How did they do it?

Such a massive sum seemed impossible without wider support, but the Friends knew where to go. Their application to numerous local and national sports funds resulted in a generous donation from Sport England, and secured the bulk of the £130,000 funding. But there was still a long way to go. The donation from Sport England really kick-started our fundraising campaign,” says Roy. With a substantial amount still to raise, we decided that we’d reach out to parents, local businesses, and the surrounding communities, and spread the word so that everyone was aware of what we wanted to achieve.”

Over the next two years, the Friends became involved in a number of community events, raising the profile of their astroturf project. The school has a long tradition of sporting success and the highlight for me was our Festival of Sport,” Roy explains. Our playground was packed throughout the day with everyone enjoying a huge range of sports: from athletics and hockey, to wheelchair basketball and boomerang throwing. We’d publicised the event beforehand, and invited local sports groups along and made sure that everyone – from parents to community members – was aware of our event.” But the friends took it even further – with a special guest! We were very lucky that Andrea Lynch, three-time British Olympic 100m athlete, was able to attend our event and support our younger children with their athletics skills.”

Overall, the event was a huge success. Through stalls, sports challenges, and a fundraising page on Just Giving, we managed to raise around £8,000.”

Most importantly is that through the PTA, teachers, parents, and carers give freely their time and knowledge to make the school a great place for the children.”

I’m incredibly proud to say that parents, teachers, the local community – and of course the children – have all pulled together and we’ve achieved our fundraising goal,” Roy reports. It’s exciting to see that work is underway.” The provision of an astroturf pitch has transformed the school’s ability to deliver high quality sports, and is making a huge positive impact on the lives of children growing up in a densely populated urban area. Heathbrook’s work proves that sometimes, fundraising isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon!

With thanks to Roy Wilson, Chair of the Friends of Heathbrook.

Want to make your own marvel? Undertaking your own long-term fundraising projects?

  • Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Raising large sums takes time and sustained effort. Try to communicate your goal to the school and wider community, and engage with local businesses and national programs
  • Having a unified goal that’s easy to communicate to others will make your fundraising a whole lot smoother!