‘Absolutely incredible’ new sports hall is opened by former Welsh international footballer Christian Roberts at Ilfracombe Academy

Ilfracombe Academy’s new sports facilities have been officially opened – and it looks as if staff and students will get to enjoy their new school early too.

Guests gathered on Thursday for the formal opening of the new gym and sports facilities built as part of a £19million new school build.

The opening was carried out by Christian Roberts, a former Welsh international and Swindon Town footballer. Cutting the ribbon to the new sports centre, he said: “I have spent some time in here today and it’s just absolutely incredible.”

Christian is a mentor in the Sky Sports Living for Sports programme.

Christian Roberts carries out the official opening. Picture: Tony GussinChristian Roberts carries out the official opening. Picture: Tony Gussin

The construction of the new school itself by BAM Construction is proceeding apace and headteacher Sharon Marshall revealed the work was 12 weeks ahead of schedule.

She said: “We will be moving in during the October half term 2018, which we are absolutely delighted about.

“Moving into a building of such high calibre is great news for the children and staff.”

Mrs Marshall said there had been such disappointment five or six years ago when the school’s promised bid for a new build was turned down after the Government changed its mind.

But with all that behind the school is looking forward to completion of the new building and school hall as phase two of the project.

Phase three will see the refurbishment of the existing Art Block and Dining Hall, while the final phase four will see the old buildings demolished and external work and landscaping carried out.

The new school hall will be able to seat up to 500 students for lunch but will also be available for community use.

Of the new sports facilities, Mrs Marshall said: “The children were absolutely overwhelmed when they went into that building – quite a few commented that it was just like a private school.”

Ilfracombe Academy was recently rated good by Ofsted and also received a good rating following its SIAM (church school) inspection.