Goalkeeper Jimmy Walker joined Havering Council leader Cllr Michael White and a host of sporty youngsters in opening a new artificial turf pitch at Brittons Playing Fields in Hornchurch.

As well as cutting the ribbon to declare the £600,000 facility open, Walker also held a goalkeeping clinic and coaching session with pupils from the Brittons School, whose students and staff will use the pitch alongside local sports clubs and neighbouring schools.

It is hoped the provision of the pitch, which includes a five-a-side football pitche and cricket nets will encourage more local youngsters to get involved in sport ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

"It was great to be involved in a fantastic project," said Walker. "Sport plays a massive part in children's schooling and I met a lot of my friends who I still play football with at school."

Funding for the project came from a Section 106 agreement with housing developer Barratt East London.

To book the pitch, sports groups should call the school on 01708 630 002 extension 125.