In 1994 Ilmington had one less than perfect grass tennis court with an old rusty fence, and around 20 members. Dick Shurey was the Chairman, treasurer and grounds man, Rosie Shurey was Secretary. Dick was very disillusioned, the court was in such disrepair and very little interest was being shown in tennis that he suggested, at the AGM, he would recommend the court be closed. Malcolm and Sheila Lowe, who were not tennis players at the time, had come along to the AGM to give support.
It was a cold January evening, Dick, Rosie, Malcolm and Sheila were the only people present. Just as Rosie was about to minute that Dick recommended court closure, two local boys from the village came in and pleaded with Dick not to close the facility.
They and their friends did play there but what they really would like was a better facility where they could play not only tennis but five a side football and basketball. This was discussed and it was realised a new multi-sport facility was financially way beyond what the village could provide, but the National Lottery was just being launched and the boys suggested applying for Lottery funding.
Malcolm suggested that before a decision was made they should write to every house in the village letting everyone know that it was possible the tennis court would close without village support to try and replace the facility possibly with a multi-sports area. The response was tremendous, membership increased way beyond Dick’s dreams, more tennis players joined as social members, and a committee of fourteen was formed with Sheila as the Social Secretary. There then followed a frantic period of fund-raising, the first being a “Pudding Party” in the village hall. Everyone in the village supported the many events organized. Dick spent many hours filling in Lottery Grant application forms, talking to court providers, Dick wrote to every organisation he could think of pleading for funds, not taking no for an answer, as we needed to raise over £22,000 in order to get the Lottery Grant. In 1996 the dream became a reality, with the backing of the Parish Council, the Lottery Grant application was successful, the courts were laid and Ilmington Multi-Sports Club was created.