Seized criminals’ cash hits the spot after vandals wreck cricket pitch

Caernarfon Cricket Club batsman Llyr Erddyn takes guard surrounded by, from left, North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin; Dave Evans, of PACT; club chairman Grant Peisley; Gwynedd Councillor and club member Jason Parry; Inspector Arwel Hughes; club treasurer Gwyn Williams; Sergeant Non Edwards; and Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett.

One of the most scenic cricket clubs in North Wales has had a helping hand with cash seized from criminals after vandals wrecked its all-weather pitch.

Youths holding an under-age drinking party in March last year lit a barbecue on the artificial wicket at Caernarfon’s magnificently sited Aber Foreshore ground which looks out across the Menai Straits.

It ruined the surface and was a bitter blow to the enthusiastic members of the club who have worked hard to improve their facilities including laying new natural grass pitches.

But now the club, only formed in 2015 and just promoted after winning the North Wales League Division Four in 2019, have received £2,500 from the North Wales Police Commissioner’s Your Community, Your Choice fund.

The initiative, also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) and North Wales Police, is in its eighth year and much of over £370,000 handed out to deserving causes in that time has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Commissioner.

Caernarfon’s players, currently lying second in Division Two, were practising at the ground when North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin paid a visit and even bowled a few balls at batsman Llyr Erddyn on the restored practice wicket.

He said: “I’m really pleased that the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office has been able to help the club out at this brilliant open space they have here in Caernarfon.

“It’s important to provide an opportunity for young people to be involved in activities like sport and for us to provide facilities within the community that can divert them away from getting into trouble.”

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin bowling at Caernarfon Cricket Club watched by Inspector Arwel Hughes and Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett. Picture Mandy Jones

Club treasurer and founder member Gwyn Williams has been the prime mover behind the club’s application for funds and he said: “We applied for the funding with the help of the local Neighbourhood Policing Team.

“I thought it was an ideal opportunity to use the proceeds of crime to compensate us for what was a criminal act.

“We’ve had tremendous support from the local community and since winning the league and getting promotion we have to play on a grass pitch but we use the artificial pitch for practice and for our 20/20 games on Wednesdays.

“It takes a lot of work getting everything ready for cricket – our chairman, Grant, spent three days at the beginning of the season just rolling the outfield.”

Grant Peisley, an Australian exile living in North Wales, said: “We felt we were really getting somewhere with winning promotion and then came the vandalism.

“We’ve kept positive and kept playing and the results have come and we’re having another really good season.

“The money has been vital for us though and if we hadn’t been able to access this funding then we might have had to pack up.

“Now we can carry on and we even have plans to build a new pavilion with sweeping views across to Anglesey.”

The damaged pitch at Caernarfon after young vandals lit a barbecue on it

PACT Project Manager Dave Evans added: “Your Community, Your Choice, run in conjunction with the Police and Crime Commissioner and North Wales Police, asks the public to vote for the good causes to be funded.

“This year we had the largest pot of funding ever at £60,000 and a record number of votes cast, 32,000 across North Wales, including for Caernarfon Cricket Club, and that underlines the level of positive community engagement PACT is achieving.”

Police Sergeant Non Edwards, who heads the local neighbourhood policing team, said: “Lots of people use this area and it means a lot to the community so we’re really pleased to have been able to help the cricket club.

“They’re a good bunch of guys and it’s great to support them after this episode of criminality robbed them of their pitch.”

For more information on the work of the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner go to https://www.northwales-pcc.gov.uk/en/home.aspx

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