Leisure centre set to expand

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AN ecstatic team at Clitheroe's Roefield Leisure Centre are celebrating a Sport England Lottery award of £195,000 – the final piece in their £1.1m. extension plans.

Added to grants and financial backing already secured from Ribble Valley Borough Council, the North West Development Agency via Clitheroe the Future, and the Bowland Charitable Trust, the lottery grant means the ambitious plans can now proceed.

The Sport England cash comprises 120,000 towards the building cost and a further 75,000 revenue support over three years to fund a sports development and facility manager at Roefield.

The expansion plan is in two phases, starting with phase one during July and August. The existing oversubscribed gym will receive a complete makeover and be equipped with the very latest fitness equipment offering state-of-the-art facilities to local people.

The new Fitness Suite, which should be available to users as early as August, will be complemented with fully integrated television screens on all running machines, bikes and cross trainers, providing users with up to 12 viewing and listening choices to ensure an altogether more enjoyable exercise experience.

Phase two is currently going through the planning process and managers hope that work can begin in the autumn. It will see Roefield transformed from its humble beginnings as the leisure centre equivalent of a "corner shop" into a new leisure "superstore", offering affordable sports and fitness programmes for the whole community.

The expansion will enable Roefield to develop its existing range of sport and recreation activities and broaden participation. In particular, it is seeking to increase its programme of organised activities for young people, families and the over-50s.

The proposed development will include a purpose-built aerobic and dance studio, a dedicated gym for over the over-50s and young people, meaning seven-day access to activities such as the "Time Out Youth Activity Centre". The gym will also provide regular daily access to the extremely popular "GP Exercise on Prescription Scheme".

Roefield manager Tony Rodia said: "This not-for-profit and independent organisation has gone from a barn to a thriving, bustling, commercially-minded business and has still retained its core value of ensuring 'access for all' to sport and recreation. At the same time it holds its own against increasing private competition."

Speaking of the planned expansion, Tony added: "It is a fitting tribute to those early pioneers – the tin can collectors and the hundreds of people who 'bought a brick' for Roefield way back in 1985 when the Ribble Valley Sport and Recreation was officially registered as a charity. The fact that the various granting authorities have backed our plans is well-deserved recognition of our dedicated staff and loyal customers, who have made Roefield the wonderful community success story it is."

Stewart Kellett, Sport England's Regional Director for the North West, said: "Sport England is proud to support Roefield as a community hub for sport and fitness. Investing in the centre will benefit the whole community in Clitheroe and beyond."