GALLERY: It’s the Barry Fry and Louis Smith show as hundreds flock to opening of Chatteris Leisure
PUBLISHED: 12:32 29 October 2012 | UPDATED: 11:09 01 November 2012
WITH the opening of all weather sports pitches and a modern leisure centre most in Chatteris would agree justice has been done and been seen to have been done.
The parlous lack of facilities in Chatteris compared to the other three Fenland towns has been resolved.
Barry Fry, Peterborough United director of football, set the seal on the first part by declaring open the all weather pitches and club house, built at a cost of £1.2million with a third of it coming from the Football Foundation.
Some 90 minutes later gymnast Louis Smith, hot foot from the BBC’s Elstree studio where his Strictly Come Dancing routines have entranced a nation, was on hand to declare open the £1.1million community gym. Fenland provided £600,000 whilst the town council paid the remainder.
Both Barry and Louis, representing in many ways opposite ends of the sporting spectrum, were crowd pleasers and crowd pullers.
Barry may be under increasing pressure at London Road but he showed no sign of football fatigue as he glad handed officials but more importantly stopped frequently to sign autographs.
Later came the visit of Louis Smith, mobbed by hundreds of enthusiastic supporters and delighting in his popularity both from the Olympics and from his dance exploits.
“It’s been a fantastic summer and there is so much going on still going on- particularly on the dance floor,” he told the audience.
He unveiled the second plaque of the day (Barry Fry having unveiled another adjoining the all weather club house) joined council officials and dignitaries for a speedy buffet lunch, before entertaining the crowds and signing autographs,.
Queues formed three deep outside the sports complex as Louis took up a position in the gym to meet, greet and be photographed by numerous fans. He’s acquiring ‘sport pop’ star status as he ensured that for most if not all it was a day they would not forget.
Fenland Council leader Alan Melton has done more than most to pursue a leisure agenda for the town, insisting it was deserved, long over due and would be welcomed by all.
“This is a dream come true for very many of us,” he said as he tried to make himself heard about the ecstatic crowd waiting for Louis to perform the official opening.
Cllr Melton recognised that most knew the history behind equipping the town with permanent leisure facilities and he paid particular tribute to the efforts of Fenland councillor and former Chatteris town council chairman Florrie Newell for her efforts.
Cllr Melton agreed it had been “an absolute wonderful summer for sport- and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t take part” but he said Fenland Council was committed to securing sports stars of the future.
He named the town council, the county council, the district council and Cromwell Community College governors, staff and pupils for helping to get the facilities off the ground.
“You should all be very proud- our aim is to finish stage three – swimming pool provision- and land has already been set aside,” he said.
He introduced local swimmer Liam Knight – a GB squad member hoping to go to Rio in 2016.
“We will produce our own Olympic stars in the future,” he said.
Notable by his absence from the day was Councillor Pop Jolley, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for leisure.
The beleaguered Cabinet member had said only last week “we’re hoping for a really big turnout on the day” but sadly he didn’t make it.
He faces questioning about what was allegedly said to him during the ‘supermarket-gate’ fiasco.
For details on membership of Chatteris Leisure, call 01354 622399 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org