A WHITCHURCH school will be the “envy of all of Hampshire” after it officially opened its artificial pitch this week.

Testbourne school, in Micheldever Road, formally unveiled its new floodlight third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch on Wednesday last week.

Pupils, staff and members of the local community were present, including representatives from the Hampshire Football Association, Whitchurch United Football Club and borough and town councillors.

BBC Breakfast sports presenter Mike Bushell cut the ribbon to mark the opening.

Headteacher Jon Beck, speaking at the opening, said: “It’s so nice to see so many people come out.

“With a facility like this so much effort goes into it. It was made possible by an awful lot of local funding and hard work from a lot of people.

He added: “The handover was like Christmas morning, it was excellent.”

The pitch is one of just two FIFA-approved surfaces in the borough with no other all-weather pitches within 10 miles of the school.

Funding for the project came from various sources. The Football Foundation and its funding partners – the Premier League, Football Association and Sport England – provided a grant worth £474,800 and a further £130,394 was raised through developer contributions.

Construction was completed towards the end of last year, with the school first using it on November 27 and then to the community.

A charity football match was then staged in December and Mr Bushell, who lives in the area, was involved in that game.

“It was like playing in the middle of some kind of bowling green,” he said.

“It was an absolute joy to play on.”

As well as the school and the local community, the pitch will serve two partner football clubs – Whitchurch United FC and Overton Youth FC.

Mike added: “It’s going to benefit not just Whitchurch but locals far and wide, young people and adults.”

“It really is an honour to have seen this happen. It’s the envy of all of Hampshire.”

Candice Wright, community manager at Testbourne Community School, said: “We would like to thank BBC Sport Commentator Mike Bushell for officially opening our fantastic new facility.

“We would also like to express our thanks to the Football Foundation for their contribution to this project.

“The 3G pitch is such a great resource for our community and is really beneficial in improving grassroots sport at a local level.”