SHALBOURNE Cricket Club has started the new season with a brand new look, after the club opened its £250,000 state-of-the-art pavilion.

The opening day included the annual cricket match between Ham and Shalbourne, which the home side won, croquet, bowls and the pavilion opening itself, which was carried out by former England captain Mike Gatting.

After seven months of building work, where the old pavilion was knocked down, the 200 locals who turned up were bowled over by the new pavilion, which now has a bar, a kitchen, much larger changing rooms, toilets, showers and a large central room for events.

Club chairman Bob Walker said: "The building is just fantastic. Everyone was so impressed by it. It was just a wonderful day and a great way to start a new and exciting era for us all – and it was nice to beat Ham as well," he said.

"We are so grateful to everyone who made this possible. To think that this is a village of just 400 or so people and they raised more than £150,000 on top of what the Greenham Trust and Sport England contributed is fantastic.

"We had been looking to get a new pavilion for 20 years as it was well past its sell-by date, as it had been around since the Second World War. It was long and narrow, had rudimentary changing rooms, the showers were not very good and toilet facilities were largely non-existent.

"The plans for this began around five years ago and the fundraising efforts have taken place over the last three. Along with the donations we have had hugely successful fundraisers such as the May Fair, our classic car show and a fireworks display.

"It was brilliant that Mike Gatting came down. He is a lovely chap and it was very good of him to come and to unveil a painting that is now hanging up in the pavilion, which looks great."

The club, which has already had a number of bookings for the coming months, is part of the Shalbourne Recreation Society charity and the grounds have facilities for the cricket team, for football, tennis, croquet, bowls and a well-equipped children's play area.