Home > sports > Deerness Leisure Centre bounces back from closure threat as gymnastics academy (From The Northern Echo)

Deerness Leisure Centre bounces back from closure threat as gymnastics academy (From The Northern Echo)

OVER 25 years, Deerness Gymnastics Club has produced more than 80 international gymnasts and brought home more than 60 world and European medals – winning four world and five European titles.

And all this came out of the small village of Ushaw Moor, in County Durham.

Coaches, parents and gymnasts alike were devastated, therefore, when, earlier this year, Durham County Council announced plans to close its base, Deerness Leisure Centre, in a move to cut costs.

However, volunteers put together a successful rescue package and yesterday the centre reopened as a gymnastics academy.

Karl Wharton, the academy’s director of gymnastics, said: “It’s our aim to run it as a gymnastics community facility, where we cater for everyone from mothers, toddlers and babies through to high-level international performers, right through to old age pensioners who want to come along and do something gymnastics-related just to keep fit.

“This facility is immensely important. It was identified as an Olympic training venue two or three years ago and it is immensely important for British gymnastics.

“We’ve currently got more than 15 of the acrobatic gymnastics GB squad and ten of the tumbling squad.

“We were all devastated at the leisure centre’s closure because we never expected that decision could be made “Initially, there was shock. But we decided there was no way we would let it go. Parents and helpers have come on board and now we have 150 volunteers who want to keep it open as a true community facility.”

Lesley Charman, whose 19-year-old son, Joe, is a member of the club, said: “It’s made a massive difference. It’s really helped with his confidence.

“He’s much more outgoing since he’s been coming to gymnastics. It has helped at school as well.”

Jessie Heskett, 17, who is part of the British champions senior men’s four, trains at the centre five times a week, for four hours at a time.

“It was quite disappointing to hear about the closure – there was panic to be honest.

“But the plans we have now are very exciting. It gives us a lot more freedom and flexibility.

“Without this club, we couldn’t have been as successful as we have been.”

Durham County Council-run leisure centres in Crook and Ferryhill closed on Saturday, although community groups are still fighting to prevent them being demolished.

Centres in Sherburn and Coxhoe will reopen as community-run facilities in coming months, while the council is retaining Pity Me’s facility on reduced hours.

For more details about Deerness Gymnastics Academy, visit deernessgymnastics.org.uk

Deerness Leisure Centre bounces back from closure threat as gymnastics academy (From The Northern Echo).

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