Organisers of the grand opening of Budleigh’s new cricket club said they were ‘blown away’ by the turnout and strength of support for the event.

Around 600 people gathered in the sunshine on Sunday (June 9) to witness the cutting of a giant ribbon on the balcony of the pavilion, which was followed by the world premiere of a new fanfare by the quintet Brass Sounds.

(Image: Simon Horn)

Somerset cricket legend James Hildreth performed the ribbon-cutting honour with the help of the club’s youngest and oldest playing members.

Lord and Lady Clinton and Nicola Lady Clinton, widow of the late Lord Clinton who was hugely supportive of the club, were among the guests on the balcony for the ceremony.

As part of the club’s commitment to disability cricket the day featured a demonstration by Somerset Visually Impaired cricket team in which players from Budleigh donned sight-limiting goggles and tried out the sport with limited vision.

(Image: Simon Horn)

The day ended with a match between a specially selected team of Budleigh stalwart players versus a side made up of younger players titled Chairman’s XI vs The Otters in which James Hildreth played for the Chairman’s side.

The occasion marked the culmination of a huge effort by the club with tremendous community support to create a modern hub for cricket that makes the sport accessible to all, with two pitches and a state of the art clubhouse.

Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club left its old site in 2022 as part of a £27m Environment Agency scheme to breach the embankments of the River Otter in several places to allow it to reconnect to its original flood plains.

It moved to its new ground in 2023 with a marquee and containers as makeshift clubhouse and changing rooms until construction of the clubhouse finished in November.

BSCC director and treasurer Andy Drodge said “We were blown away at the turnout for our grand opening. The support from the local community as well as our members was heart warming. We were blessed with stunning weather and the atmosphere throughout the day was full of energy. Special thanks to Lord and Lady Clinton as well as James Hildreth who opened the clubhouse. For those not able to stay until the end The Otters were successful in the cricket match against the Chairman’s select XI!”