General view of Centre Court during the Ladies Singles Final at the 2011 Wimbledon Tennis Championships, London - Credit: Neil Tingle / Alamy Stock Photo

A Summer of sport for the UK and right here in North Devon - David Worden

David Worden

What a fantastic summer of sport we are having. We have just witnessed an exciting Wimbledon where the weather was glorious and the tennis exhilarating and the exciting UEFA Women’s Euros which has captured the attention of so many in our country.

The England cricket team has been transformed this year as they have succeeded in playing a much more aggressive and exciting form of cricket. Our athletics team performed really well in this year’s world championships, Formula 1 racing is proving to be really competitive and for golf fans we have had The British Open celebrating its 150th anniversary at St. Andrews Old Course in Fife, Scotland.

Now we have the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with its wide variety of different sporting activities. For those of us who are sports fans we are being treated to a feast of entertainment and the football season is only just beginning.

Of course all the sports stars that we see on the television have put in hours and hours of practice in order to become proficient in their different areas. Many have fascinating stories of sacrifice and determination which has enabled them to achieve their potential. In most cases it has started with them joining small local clubs or leisure facilities and progressing from there.

We are fortunate in North Devon in having numerous sports clubs run by hard working volunteers who freely give of their time to encourage us to become active. They deserve all the support that we can give to them.

It was a real pleasure for me to speak recently at the opening of the new North Devon (Tarka) Leisure Centre in Barnstaple and to meet in person Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards who made such an impression on the British public in the 1980’s as he took part in the Winter Olympics. He even had a go on the centre’s continuous ski slope.

Would you believe that I had just joined the council as a very young councillor when the last Leisure Centre was built. In those days we had committees for many different things and as a young Barnstaple councillor I was proud to be the Vice Chairman of the Amenities Committee which had oversight of the Leisure Centre.

Well that Leisure Centre has now served its purpose and I am delighted that North Devon Council and it’s councillors recognised the importance of leisure provision to our residents and made a commitment to deliver a Leisure Centre fit for the future.

My thanks go to the council officers, our local community groups and sports clubs, who worked with our officers: providing their knowledge to input into the design process and provided letters of support as part of the funding applications.

A big thank you to Parkwood Leisure who were successful in their bid to Design, Build and Operate this great facility; and who have made a financial commitment to operate the leisure centre here and in Ilfracombe for the next 20 years; and have expertly navigated the construction project.

We are also grateful for The National Lottery through Sport England’s Strategic Facilities Fund who contributed £1.8m and to The Coastal Communities Fund who provided £1.5m towards the £14 million plus project.

Please do go and have a look at the facilities at the new centre. The main features include a 25 metre 8-lane main pool and a 20 metre 4-lane learner pool, both with state of the art moveable floors allowing the pool depth to be changed to suit the session, a brand new 100+ station gym with state of the art Life Fitness equipment, a sports hall, soft play and café etc. but don’t forget the continuous ski slope.

It is a wonderful centre but at a time when many councils’ are closing leisure amenities I would encourage you to support it. Our hope is that you will enjoy using these fabulous new facilities in the many years to come.