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Dagenham Pitch and Putt pays tribute to community for rallying round after vandals target clubhouse

PUBLISHED: 11:24 24 July 2019

Dagenham Pitch and Putt manager, Steve Deeble, and his grandson Lenny at the course near Central Park. Picture: Jon King

Dagenham Pitch and Putt manager, Steve Deeble, and his grandson Lenny at the course near Central Park. Picture: Jon King

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A golf course gearing up to host a European championship after its clubhouse was torched in an apparent arson attack, has "risen from the ashes".

The fire brigade was called and had to break into the course after the vandals set light to on off the huts. Picture: Jamie Deeble.The fire brigade was called and had to break into the course after the vandals set light to on off the huts. Picture: Jamie Deeble.

Dagenham Pitch and Putt in Central Park off Wood Lane was set on fire more than five months ago but thanks to its dedicated staff, members and the public it is ready to host the European Strokeplay Championship next month.

Manager Steve Deeble said: "We feel privileged it's coming to Dagenham. It means a lot after what happened. It's like the phoenix has risen again. The fire got us all down."

Steve, who first played the 15-acre course when he was nine and became manager in 2004, said the club's success was thanks to the community and members who had a whip round to raise the money to repair a roof and repaint blackened, smoke damaged walls.

"People were so lovely, it was unbelievable. Everyone got out their scrubbing brushes. A member from another club donated the paint. It's uplifting to see it now. We're like a family here," the 63-year-old great grandfather said.

Damage following the vandalism. Picture: Jamie Deeble.Damage following the vandalism. Picture: Jamie Deeble.

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Finishing touches to the 18-hole course, bought by the council in 1932 and now leased, are now under way with flowers blooming and greens cut and watered ready to welcome players from the UK, Norway, Spain, Holland, Ireland and Sweden.

Steve explained the club was approached by a championship official who asked if it would take on the competition. So far 136 players have signed up. There are just eight places left.

"I asked is our course good enough and he said it was more than good enough. I spoke to my boss and we agreed it would be big for Dagenham, so that's why we took it," Steve said.

The club, which has about 35 members, is now hoping its guests will receive a warm Dagenham welcome when they arrive for the two-day event on August 17 and 18.

"We would love as many people as possible to come," Steve said.

There is no charge to spectate. For more visit the Dagenham pitch and putt Facebook page.

A Met spokesman said a 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson on February 28 before being released under investigation. He has not been charged.

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