Work starts on gymnastic ‘centre of excellence’

Joseph Bulmer

New indoor sports centre will be become the new home for Barnstaple-based club.

WORK has started on a brand new gymnastic centre of excellence in Barnstaple.

The �900,000 community indoor sports centre, linked to the Tarka Tennis Centre at Seven Brethren, will become the new home of the Falcons Gymnastics Academy.

The Barnstaple-based club, founded in 2004, has more than 500 members and has outgrown its current gym on the Pottington Industrial Estate.

The Falcons Community Sports Centre is being built as part of a phased development linking the new building to the existing Tarka Tennis Centre. Future development of the centre could see four new indoor courts replace the existing six outdoor courts.

The site is owned by North Devon Council, which has awarded �350,000 towards the project. British Gymnastics and Devon County Council have each contributed �275,000, while a further �50,000 for equipment has been granted by the Fullabrook Community Interest Company.

A turf cutting ceremony took place earlier today (Monday) to mark the start of a joint construction project by Midas Construction and Gates Construction Consultants.

Speaking at the ceremony, Falcons head coach Mike Beagley said the academy had been looking for a new home for four-and-a-half years.

“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster at times and we have been through many hoops but it’s great to be able to get to where we are today.

“It’s fantastic news for everyone involved with the club and the whole of North Devon; not just gymnasts, but those interested in other sports and related activities.

“The new facility will allow us to double our membership and create some of the best facilities in the country. It will be able to host national competitions, as well as county and South West level events.

“There are already two members of the academy who are part of the Great Britain squad and who knows, we may now be able to get to the stage where we’re producing the next Olympic champions.”

Work is expected to be completed at the end of July.