Flip­ping mar­vel­lous

Spelthorne gym­nasts head over heels with spade­work on new £2.8m home just days away

Staines Informer - - FRONT PAGE - Char­lotte Tal­bot

BUILD­ING work is due to start on a new £2.8mil­lion home for Spelthorne Gym­nas­tics Club.

The club, where 2010 Bri­tain’s Got Ta­lent win­ners Spel­bound started out, will move out of its cur­rent base at the for­mer Brook­lands Col­lege site in Ash­ford to what will be a pur­pose-built fa­cil­ity at Bishop Wand School in Sun­bury.

The new build will cost a to­tal of £2.8mil­lion, and the club has just been given a £100,000 boost from Sur­rey County Coun­cil.

Ear­lier this year a grant of £250,000 and a £200,000 loan were given from the Lon­don Marathon Char­i­ta­ble Trust, which gives out pro­ceeds from the RideLon­don cy­cling fes­ti­val. Money has also been do­nated from the Lon­don Dioce­san Board for Schools, In­land Homes and Sport Eng­land, leav­ing them with a £400,000 short­fall.

Bob Cooper, who founded the gym­nas­tics club, which boasts world and Euro­pean gold medal­lists, said the lease on the new build­ing had been signed and a bird sur­vey at the site com­pleted.

“The bird sur­vey was cleared this week so hope­fully things are mov­ing,” he said. “Prob­a­bly in a week or so we will have the first spades in the ground.

“The pro­ject is a ninemonth build and we have al­ready had one ex­ten­sion from In­land Homes from Septem­ber this year to Jan­uary 2017, so I will be talk­ing to the builder to find out if they can make that date.”

Last sum­mer it was feared the club was to be evicted from its home of 24 years.

The col­lege told the club it would need to va­cate its premises on Church Road as it was sell­ing the land to gen­er­ate funds for new fa­cil­i­ties on Thomas Knyvett Col­lege.

But af­ter strik­ing a deal with de­vel­oper In­land Homes, which ac­quired the site, the lease was ex­tended and the club is still us­ing the base while the new fa­cil­ity is be­ing built.

The new build­ing will also be avail­able to the school’s 1,000 pupils for up to 25 hours a week dur­ing term time.

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Mr Cooper said this was one of the ‘huge ben­e­fits’.

He said they are also work­ing with Sport Eng­land to de­velop other sports at the Lay­ton’s Lane school build­ing.

“We’ve got a cy­cling club for the par­ents and we are go­ing to in­tro­duce dance, aer­o­bics and health and fit­ness so there’s a few other things and spin-offs for the com­mu­nity,” he re­vealed.

“It’s not just go­ing to be gym­nas­tic fa­cil­i­ties.

“There will be tram­polin­ing and dance and pos­si­bly mar­tial arts too.

“The point is that the fa­cil­ity will be a very multi-use.

“The club mem­bers can’t wait. Ev­ery­one is really ex­cited.”

Talk­ing about the £100,000 grant, Sur­rey County Coun­cil leader David Hodge said: “While ris­ing de­mand for ser­vices like adult so­cial care means money’s tight there are still plenty of ways we can help make a big dif­fer­ence in com­mu­ni­ties, and this is one of them.

“Spelthorne Gym­nas­tics plays a huge part in the lives of thou­sands of young peo­ple, from be­gin­ners through to elite gym­nasts and TV stars – long may this con­tinue.”

Pic­ture: Dar­ren Pepe Ref: RS153325

Com­ing on leaps and bounds: Spelthorne gym­nasts dis­play in the arena at Ash­ford on the Map’s Sum­mer Fun Day at Brook­lands Col­lege last year.

Bob and Ali­son Cooper of Spelthorne Gym­nas­tics Club.

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