A rugby club has teamed up with the water company after its first team pitch had to be dug up during construction work for a major flood scheme.
The playing surface is now being restored and a massive tank to store storm water is buried underneath.
Northumbrian Water started work on a £3.7 million, ten-month scheme to reduce the risk of flooding to 64 homes in Preston Village, North Shields, earlier this year.
Part of the scheme involved building the 3,500 cubic metre tank which will store 43,750 bathfulls of water to be returned to the sewerage network after the rain.
North Shields Rugby Football Club was looking for help following the withdrawal of its sponsor and Northumbrian Water agreed to take over in appreciation of the club’s support during the construction and to extend its community programme.
The three-year, £10,000 sponsorship will pay for rugby strips and equipment for the first team and youth squads and help the club to further develop rugby at both league and grass-roots level.
It has enabled the club to develop a new team for this season, the Artisans who take their name in tribute to the early days of the club, which was formed in 1922 by ex-rugby international Peter Hardwick, with skilled manual workers from the Smiths Docks Company on the River Tyne.
The team, formed from older youth players who are ready to move from junior to senior rugby, has already won the Northumberland County Seven trophy.
Club chairman Steven Binks, said: "The uncertainty and disruption to the club by the necessary work to be undertaken by Northumbrian Water has been greatly reduced by the professionalism and close working relationship we have had with all aspects of the company.
“Their sponsorship has meant that we have been able to bridge the gap between our flourishing youth section and the senior rugby teams to a much greater extent than would otherwise have been possible.
“We look forward to our continued partnership with Northumbrian Water and we are sure this will be instrumental in helping us develop our teams during the seasons to come."
Graeme Ridley, project manager for the scheme, said: “The improvement work we are carrying out is essential to protect homes in the area from flooding in times of heavy rainfall, but we appreciate that it has caused some disruption.
“The three-year partnership shows our appreciation to the rugby club for its support throughout the work.
“Northumbrian Water is committed to giving something back to the areas it serves and many of our community partnerships focus on sporting initiatives that encourage people to lead a healthy lifestyle,” said Graeme Ridley.
• Northumbrian Water invests more than 1% of pre-tax profits each year through its community programme. It supports projects in tennis, football, cricket, rowing, swimming, athletics, golf and fishing, that get people active and educate on healthy eating and good hydration.
• The water company has also developed partnerships with sporting organisations to promote the importance of water for health.
• Partnerships include the ‘Hoops 4 Health’ education programme with basketball champions, Newcastle Eagles and Young Pucks Play Safe, a water safety initiative developed with Newcastle Vipers Community Foundation and Whoops Child Safety.
For more information contact Leanne Clough on 0191 301 6733.