A small Fenland village will shortly be able to boast some of the best facilities in the area, and possibly even the country as work to transform a former dance hall into a multi-use sports hall comes to an end.
In just over three months the trustees of Wisbech St Mary Sports and Community Centre have seen the old dance hall known as the Sunset Rooms in Station Road go from a disused wreck of a building filled with old kitchens and other clutter to a £500,000 indoor sports facility.
Paul Albutt, trustees chairman, is proud of what has been achieved for the village and says Wisbech St Mary can proudly boast to having over £2million worth of community facilities - and they are all completely paid for.
The trust took over the Sunset Rooms, which have seen some big name performers like the Joe Loss Orchestra play there in days gone by, on June 5, and this weekend they will re-open as a sporting venue for everything from indoor football, to netball, basketball, table tennis and hockey.
“We are having a soft opening on September 26 - just for football so we can iron out any teething problems before we open fully on October 2. We have used all locally-based contractors to do the work. We paid £100,000 for the building with the help of the Hudson Trust - which to be honest was a real snip. We have probably spent around £150,000 doing it up, but we now have a sporting facility that’s worth around £500,000.
“It is something the community can be really proud of and it will hopefully benefit everyone of all ages. It will make an ideal place for children’s parties - you can even put up bouncy castles in here,” said Paul.
There will be a seating area with tables, chairs, vending machines and a kitchen to encourage people to relax and last week saw the installation of a toughened glass wall viewing gallery to allow visitors to view the action in the sports hall.
“It is quite an expensive addition, but we think it is worth it. There will be benches so people can sit and spectate and enjoy refreshments. There is a second smaller hall, which we hope could be used for table tennis as well as exercise classes. We want it to be as versatile as possible so it can be used by as many people and groups as possible.
“We are hoping to see user groups set up so we can keep staffing to a minimum and keep costs down. We aim to hire it out at an affordable hourly rate. Any profits, as is already done with the community centre and football pitches, will be used to improve facilities. We run as a business, but it is run by volunteer directors with no one being paid a penny, all profits go to fund projects like this for the benefit of the whole village. We don’t do anything until we can afford it outright,” added Paul.
Anyone interested in finding out more should contact Paul on 01945 410610.