Olympic star hails new Dereham centre

IAN CLARKE Former Olympic swimming champion and TV star Sharron Davies has described Dereham's new £8.9m leisure centre as “fantastic” ahead of her officially opening it on Thursday.

IAN CLARKE

Former Olympic swimming champion and TV star Sharron Davies has described Dereham's new £8.9m leisure centre as “fantastic” ahead of her officially opening it on Thursday.

The celebrity will take to the water along with young members of the Dereham Otters as part of celebrations at the new complex, which has been hailed as one of the finest in the region by Sport England.

She said: “It's a fantastic facility. Being able to participate in sport in such a stylish and striking setting adds an extra element and really encourages everyone to get involved.

“The swimming pool is superb - not only is it competition standard, it also has the latest technology for timing and scoring. I hope the young people of Breckland will be inspired to strive for excellence and go on to be the champions of the future.”

The centre is the jewel in the crown of a £66m contract between Breckland Council and Breckland Leisure Limited which secures the sporting future of the district for the next 32 years.

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It includes a six lane 25m main pool, teaching pool, fitness suite, multi-purpose sports hall, aerobics and dance studio with special sprung floor, 4-rink indoor bowls, café, bar and crèche.

Breckland Council chairman Roy Rudling said: “This iconic building gives a real boost to the town of Dereham and the whole district. Already we have seen the town transformed with the new shopping centre, the superb library and now this, which is already acting as a sporting and cultural heart to the community.”

Tony Hewitt, chairman of Parkwood Holdings, which will operate the centre, said: “Centres like this play an important part in maintaining and improving the health and fitness of a community.”

On Thursday the Gate 6 jazz band from Northgate High School will give a live performance and there will also be a bowls competition and sculpture presentation and tour by sculptor Neal French.

Throughout the next week there will be a range of activities and displays in the new centre including

paintings by Claire Riseborough, stained glass mosaic created by local children, winners of Breckland art competition on display, children with disabilities getting the chance to try taster sessions, free sessions in the dance studio, story telling and the Hoofbeat Street Band.