Barrow Raiders chairman Steve Neale writes a weekly column for The Mail.

The outdoor hospitality industry re-opened on Monday and with it a sense of optimism at the Raiders.

We have seen a few hardy souls on benches throughout the town, but Barrow Raiders can offer a step above with our large marquee that can safely seat more than 200 people and table space for an additional 400 outside.

We will also be pumping heat in the marquee, offering free WiFi and will have Sky TV on the screens.

For the next few weeks and beyond we hope it is the go-to place for the town.

We have invested a significant amount of money reshaping the ground and we would love that return on investment quickly so that we are able to fund other improvement plans that includes putting a top championship-standard team together for 2022.

Our events programme can now come alive and we have a venue that hopefully is used throughout the whole year. We have considered an Oktoberfest, sportsmen’s dinners, Christmas parties as well as many musically-themed days. We have our concert with Knight Promotions booked for July, with tickets going on sale next week.

There are so many people to thank for all the hard work that is currently ongoing and it has been a massive team effort to get where we are and it will be a continued effort to get where we want to go.

I really feel that the club is about to take off in a big way.

I see us doing things that no other club is doing and coronavirus has taught us that diversification is key to any business and that you must react quickly to opportunity.

Simply relying on TV income via central distributions, gate receipts and a few sponsors will only take the club so far. It is vital that we create our own income streams and that they are sustainable for the long term.

At times it doesn’t feel that we are running a rugby club but a multi-faceted organisation but that’s the way it needs to be.

As we grow there will be employment opportunities and we hope that we can help to provide some prosperity for the town.

We may be diversifying and running a community programme to match any of our rivals, but we are still enormously ambitious about the future direction of the team.

We want to build solid foundations within the community game and provide a pathway to competitive youth rugby that eventually leads to the professional game.

We also want to be in the market for the absolute best talent in Cumbria, as well as a sprinkling of top-quality talent from further afield.

I think we are starting to get recognised within the RFL organisation and there has been an acknowledgement of the work we have been doing but we still don’t feel that the wider rugby league public have an appreciation of what’s going on at the club.

I constantly see references to Newcastle and York, and while I understand the work they are doing, it is frustrating that we do not seem to be talked about.

With that in mind, we have teamed up with a media and marketing company who are going to help us both to raise awareness and to help to maximise our income. We want everyone to know of our ambitions.