On a glorious late summer afternoon, the sun shone as members from the local community in Hartford gathered to marvel at the official opening of The Grange Sports Centre.
The £7 million complex completes a long term ambition of The Grange School, an independent school in the heart of Cheshire, to provide facilities fit for 2019 and beyond for its students as well as a new fitness and lifestyle hub for the local community.
The opening saw two former students, Tom and Emily Ford, officially open the sports centre with the head of the school Debbie Leonard.
The Ford siblings are both rowing with the Great British team and are aiming to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year.
After ‘cutting the ribbon’ and opening the doors, Emily said about her time at The Grange “I did some netball and swimming, but I started rowing at around 13.
“It really took off so I went down that route. We were drawn into it from there and have never looked back.”
Tom added about the new facilities: “It’s an amazing space. We are lucky enough to be able to train at the EIS at Bisham, which is a huge purpose-built facility for sport.
“Some of the equipment you see here is on a par with that, which is great. I think it’s amazing to see a facility like this here, which can allow people to take their sports further.”
What the sports centre provides
Hundreds of guests gathered to see the sports centre in action and get a sense of what the facility will provide as they received a guided tour from the school’s sixth form students.
The pinnacle of the building is the large, multi-purpose sports hall.
It can be used as a premier netball court, four cricket lanes, four badminton courts, indoor hockey and football pitches as well as a full size basketball court.
You cannot help but notice the impressive climbing wall also in the hall boasting overhangs at the highest levels.
There is also a gym with the latest equipment including multi-gym systems, strength machines, exercise bikes, rowing trainers and treadmills.
A spacious dance studio can accommodate dance of all types, especially ballet with a ballet barre and for exercise classes too.
The new sports centre adds to The Grange’s other outdoor facilities; a floodlit multi use games area and all weather pitch, which are complemented by the sports pavilion located a 5-minute drive from the school with full-size rugby and football pitches.
A hub for the community
Partners of the project – including architects Squires and Brown, and construction partner Seddon – were also present to enjoy the event.
Handelsbanken provided long-term funding and acted as a supportive partner during the construction project.
Branch manager of the local Warrington branch, James Barron commented: “We are delighted to have worked with The Grange School on helping to deliver this fantastic facility – the sports hall will be a true asset for many future generations of students as well as the local community and stakeholders.”
Head of the school Debbie Leonard built on this saying: “The sports centre will enable the school to work with clubs and associations to develop pathways beyond school.
“We have had some very supportive members of the community, from the parish council to residents who have at times had to put up with dust and noise.
“We do appreciate you bearing with us throughout, so thank you very much.”