A RUGBY club in Northwich have dedicated their new community woodland to a youth coach who had to give up playing at a young age.

Chris Sheppard joined Winnington Park RFC as youngster and worked his way into the club's first team.

Unfortunately, the now 27-year-old had to retire from playing rugby for health reasons.

But that didn't stop him getting involved and he has continued to volunteer at the club, going on to become a successful coach of the Colts youth team.

One of the project's Chris has been heavily involved with is the new community woodland, which officially opened on Saturday, April 22, at the far end of the first team pitch.

And to show their appreciation of everything Chris has done for Winnington Park RFC, the club have named the area 'Sheppy's Wood' in his honour.

Winnington Park’s vice-chairman, Dave Snasdell, said: “So much of the groundwork was done by Chris Sheppard, a former player who has retired from playing due to injury.

"Chris is now 27, but he embraced the club at a young age and has put in so many hours supporting us as a volunteer.

"He’s successfully coached the Colts team for the last few seasons, who’ve gone on to win the league and make several cup final appearances.

"We thought naming the wood ‘Sheppy’s Wood’ would just be a nice way of showing our appreciation for everything he does."

The wood adjoins the fence line for Ecolab, the club's main sponsor, with a gate so staff can enjoy it on their lunchbreak, along with the community who used the rugby club’s facilities.

Club members, Petty Pool College, and local over 50s men’s group, Men in Sheds, worked together to design and build a gravel path, as well as flower beds, bird boxes, bug hotels, a toddler obstacle course, and sitting area with benches.

Dave added: "The club would also like to thank Ecolab for sponsoring the project, and Petty Pool Trust students who’ve supported the planning, design and groundworks.

“Not to mention John Rudkin, a former player, for the fantastic oak sign made for the area, and club stalwart Billy Booker and his team, who we call 'the Last of the Summer Wine Crewe'.

"They’re group of former players, all pensioners, who spend many hours as volunteers keeping the club ground and pitches in top condition in all weathers, all year round.”

Winnington Park RFC relies on volunteers and welcomes anyone from the community who wants to get involved in whatever way they can. You can contact the club via email: enquires@wprfc.com

Dave says in return, the club can offer a great time, a chance to meet new friends and to learn new skills.

He added: “Grassroots rugby would not survive without the many volunteers who give back to the club in all areas with their time, effort, and experience.

"They’re what ensure the club is a great place to be."