Bungay Black Dog Running Club (BBDRC) have celebrated the purchase and transformation of a vandalised, overgrown and derelict site and named it BARC (Bungay Area Running Centre).

Since 1982, the black dogs have operated out of the local high school but following a spike in membership to almost 400 runners, the club was forced to expand.

Robin Ashe, who was club chairman at the time, said: "In 2015 the opportunity arose to rent the one-time football pitches located at Pirnhow Street just outside Bungay town centre and owned by the Ditchingham Estate.

"With the help of the dozens of club members who loaned and donated a massive £26,500, together with grants from Norfolk Community Foundation, Bungay Town Council and Aviva, we were able to purchase the site for around £33,000 and thanks to extra ongoing fundraising we have spent around £25,000 on the facilities which have transformed the site."

Club stalwart and coach, John Wharton said thousands of volunteer hours have gone into the build, with club members planting flowers, re-commissioning toilets, and levelling rabbit-holed surfaces.

"We found phenomenal levels of trade skills, muscle and people to inject into the project a lot of tender loving care among our members," Mr Wharton said. The community pay back scheme also helped the club with laying an electric ring main, the renovation of floodlights, erecting a rabbit proof fence, marking out the running and training tracks, re-roofing and shuttering as well as installing a kitchen fitting. Following a burglary at the club, CCTV has also been installed at the new centre.

Former BBDRC captain and chairman Karen Gedge, said: "As well as providing improved facilities for all our athletes from beginners to elite runners, the hard work has been very much about providing a safe training environment for our juniors and for visually impaired athletes.

"It has enabled us to offer athletics sessions to local people with downs syndrome, further supporting diversity within our membership, and to welcome beginners," she said.

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