Ellingham and Ringwood has become the first rugby club in Hampshire to have solar panels installed on its roof.

The improvement was made possible by a sponsorship from Simon and Clare Banks of Verwood-based Smart Home Technical Ltd, who installed the panels.

Simon plays for the rugby club in its third XV and its veterans' side, and has supported the club in various other ways in the past, such as paying for a pitch side signboard, sponsoring a set of shirts for the girl’s team on which his daughter plays, carrying out electrical work and installing a big screen that members watch international matches on.

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The capital cost of installing the panels was approximately £15,000, but it is estimated this will pay for itself in five years with an approximate savings of £3,000 per year on electrical costs.

Manager Steve Benson said in a blog post on the club’s website: “Going forward, this will save the club a significant amount of money on our electricity costs, as well as helping us achieve our objective of being as 'green' as possible.

“We are also very grateful to Ringwood Scaffolding, who provided the scaffolding to us free of charge.”