Gym centre gets £400,000 cash boost

A CASH boost of nearly £400,000 will help turn the Ipswich Gymnastics Centre into one of the finest sporting venues in the country.Money has been secured from Sport England, a government-backed source of funding, to expand the building in Brazier's Wood Road.

A CASH boost of nearly £400,000 will help turn the Ipswich Gymnastics Centre into one of the finest sporting venues in the country.

Money has been secured from Sport England, a government-backed source of funding, to expand the building in Brazier's Wood Road.

The extension will mean more international competitions will be staged in Ipswich and Andy Wood, head coach of the Pipers Vale Gymnastics Club who are based at the centre, was delighted with the news.

He said: “It is fantastic and it has taken a lot of hard work from a lot of people.

“As a sporting arena it will leave us as one of the best in the country. We should be able to host every level of competition apart from women's artistic finals.

“It will give us another 100 seats for spectators which makes us the biggest in the region and we will be able to host more international and national events.”

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When completed, the centre will also host other activities including netball, martial arts, yoga, keep fit and pilates while a dance studio will accommodate tap dancing, jazz dancing and ballet.

The ten metres by 57 metres extension will be added on to the side of the building in land that is currently unused, but had been allocated to the centre when originally built.

The work will cost £630,000 and Wood has worked tirelessly to secure the majority of the money.

Laurence Collins, a director of Ipswich Borough Council, kick-started the project when he organised a meeting between Wood and Bellway Homes, the company behind the Ravenswood development.

In conjunction with the council, a new house was built and then sold for £125,000 earlier this year with the proceeds going towards the extension.

Staff and parents have raised £20,000 through a number of fundraisers, but the majority of the money has now been secured through Sport England.

After Wood applied for the money, he had numerous meetings saying why they should have the cash. It proved successful as they gained £395,000 to be spent on the extension while an additional £60,000, also from Sport England, will go towards an initiative to take gymnastics and other sports to schools in Ipswich and east Suffolk.

Despite currently being £90,000 short of the £630,000 total, work will start on the extension in March and has to be completed by the start of January 2006.

Wood said he was “90 per cent confident” of securing the remaining money as he had already submitted bids for funding from the Foundation of Sports and Arts, Sports Match, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council.

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