HOCKEY: Woodhall Spa pitch opened by Olympic heroine Cullen

Crista Cullen cuts the tape, pictured with St Hugh's head boy Joseph Bell, head girl Ollie Henson, hockey captain India Norwood and headteacher Chris Ward. Photo: John Aron
Crista Cullen cuts the tape, pictured with St Hugh's head boy Joseph Bell, head girl Ollie Henson, hockey captain India Norwood and headteacher Chris Ward. Photo: John Aron

Olympic golden girl Crista Cullen opened a new all-weather pitch at St Hugh’s School, Woodhall Spa.

Olympic golden girl Crista Cullen opened a new all-weather pitch at St Hugh’s School, Woodhall Spa.

Crista Cullen coaches some St Hugh's hockey players. Photo: John Aron

Crista Cullen coaches some St Hugh's hockey players. Photo: John Aron

Lincolnshire-born Cullen was a key member of the Great Britain squad that won a sensational gold medal at the Rio Olympics last month.

Cullen, who scored one of GB’s goals in the thrilling shoot-out win against Holland in the final at Rio, ran a series of training sessions with lucky St Hugh’s pupils.

She performed the offical opening, which was followed by a challenge match and a hog roast.

St Hugh’s believe the new pitch will be a major boost to their already impressive list of sporting facilities. The opening brought to an end a project which, according to the school, has cost around £450,000.

The idea for a pitch was first broached in 2012 and fundraising really kicked into force in 2015. All the money has been raised from past and present pupils of the school and their families. Events included an old boys reunion dinner, a school ball, epic cycle events, school fairs, and sponsored runs.

Some of the building materials were donated by parents, along with their time and efforts to build the pitch. The crowning glory is the ‘fan walk’ – an area of paving slabs with donors’ names inscribed on them in the pitch viewing area.

The total amount raised by parents has been between £150k and £200k.

The facility will be used by all age groups with little ones now being able to learn essential ball skills on the pitch.

Cullen, who was born in Boston, is recognised as one of the best – and bravest – defenders in the world. She started playing hockey at the age of nine and was educated in Lincolnshire before moving to Oakham School.

She made her GB debut in 2003 and was referred to as a ‘warrior’ after suffering a head injury in the Olympic semi-final against New Zealand, only to return to the action after treatment.