The £700,000 extension and renovation work at Huntingdon Gymnastics Club has been officially opened by former Prime Minister Sir John Major, with help from Olympians Louis Smith and Dan Keatings.
The trio unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion at a ceremony this afternoon, watched by gym supporters, students and their families.
It was followed by a number of displays by club members who showed off their skills, including a performance from the new display team, set up this year by Zoiey Smale.
Sir John, who opened a previous extension at the Mayfield Road club in December 1991, said he was “thrilled” to see the new facilities, known as the 2012 Hall.
He said the gym’s founder, Terry Sharpington, who died in 2003, would have been very proud and that renaming the former main training area the Sharpington Hall was a fitting tribute.
And like so many of the people present this afternoon, Sir John, a patron of British Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, revealed he had a family interest in the club. “My two-and-a-half-year-old grandson is here every weekend,” he said “And he loves it.”
The club’s head coach, Paul Hall, said the upsurge in interest in the sport had made the extension essential.
He paid tribute to all those who had helped it become a reality, including organisations who had provided funding and volunteers for their time and effort.
Louis Smith said the extended area was “fantastic” adding: “It’s great we can filter in more kids. For British gymnastics and the community, I think it’s absolutely brilliant.”
Alan Sommerville, president of British Gymnastics, said Huntingdon had been fortunate in having two great animateurs in Mr Sharpington and Mr Hall as the driving forces behind the club’s progress.
“I am sure we will see many more Olympians coming from these facilities,” he added.