Pupils cannot wait for PE lessons as �400k school sports suite opens

Excited students eagerly await PE lessons at their Gorleston school, since out of date facilities were replaced with brand new equipment.

The sports department at Ormiston Venture Academy, in Oriel Avenue, has been given a �400,000 make-over as part of an �8.1m building project.

And what was once dusty cupboards and cramped classrooms is now an airy fitness suite stocked with treadmills, rowing machines and exercise bikes.

Community reading volunteer John Mackintosh, 74, of Belton, cut the ribbon to officially open the new fitness suite yesterday.

Nicole McCartney, principal of Venture, said: 'It was Medieval before – it was absolutely horrendous.

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'What's now the reception was a store cupboard, the fitness suite was half of the boys' changing rooms and a store cupboard. We had a lot of store cupboards.

'The children in this area have not had what they deserve in a long time, but we are changing that.'

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The failing former Oriel High School began its turnaround in 2010 when it became Ormiston Venture Academy, and the new sports facilities are a continuation of this.

Facilities will be open to the community to use, with hours soon to be announced. A reception desk is in place to help the school's sports department to double as a community sports centre.

The fitness suite is stocked with �21,000 of equipment including: three treadmills, three rowing machines, three cross trainers, three exercise bikes, a weight machine and free weights.

'We're a healthy school and have produced a gold medallist Paralympian and a world champion kick boxer,' added Ms McCartney. 'Sport goes a long way for children's confidence and being the highest performing school in Great Yarmouth we feel our sports facilities should reflect that.'

A mural dedicated to former pupil Jessica-Jane Applegate, who won Paralympic gold in the 200m freestyle swimming, is to decorate one of the department's walls.

And youngsters say they have been inspired by the new sports facilities.

Bradley Goldsmith, 15, said: 'It looks amazing and I'm really excited – I can't wait to start using it.

'Even the young ones are looking at it.'

The next phase of the Balfour Beatty scheme is the main building, which will double the number of classrooms at the school, offer a modern library and lecture theatres.

It is due to complete in September 2013.

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