A brand new Sports Centre was opened this week at Edge Hill University, by Olympic heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

The state-of-the-art Sports Centre building houses an eight-court sports hall with viewing gallery for basketball, netball, badminton, five-a-side football and general sports use, a 25-metre swimming pool, an 80-station fitness suite, aerobics studio, health suite with sauna and steam rooms, a café and lounge area.

New ecological features and wildlife habitats have also been created, including mixed-woodland areas and footpaths linking to nearby Ruff Wood, wildflower meadows, open grassland and a new wildlife pond, and structural screen planting and hedgerow replacement. The whole development incorporates sustainable drainage and low carbon design and building technologies.
The international competition standard outdoor facilities include one of the largest running tracks in Europe, rugby, hockey and football pitches, an athletics field, netball and tennis courts and a ‘trim trail’ with exercise stations.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson was joined for the opening by philanthropist and entrepreneur Barrie Wells, who has sponsored her throughout her career.

Barrie Wells said: “Sport has a powerful influence on the lives of many individuals and I am certain that this incredible new facility at Edge Hill will benefit a wide variety of people ranging from students and staff, to grassroot level sports and professional athletes. In my experience as an entrepreneur and philanthropist I have seen how sport can act as a great platform for success in business – in particularly with elite athletes who share many similar qualities with successful business people such as short and long term planning, working under pressure, adapting to changing conditions, determination and competiveness.

“Both Katarina Johnson-Thompson – a great athlete who I have personally sponsored from the age of 15 – and I are truly honoured to open the new Edge Hill Sports Centre and look forward to seeing the positive impact that these top class facilities will have on our next sporting generation.’

Katarina Johnson-Thompson said: “I’ve been to Edge Hill a number of times, including with a group of schoolchildren and also to see my sponsor Barrie Wells be awarded an Honorary Degree by the University, and it’s fantastic to be back today for the opening of this amazing facility. It’s an honour to be here, and I’d like to thank Edge Hill for having me!”

Dr John Cater, Vice-Chancellor at Edge Hill University said: “These sector-leading sports facilities have been ten years and over £30m in the making. Top quality outdoor pitches, full-size 3G surfaces for year-round sport, an international standard athletics track and, now, a new eight -court sports hall, hundred-station fitness suite, 25m pool, sauna and steam room, all built to five-star hotel standards. We are delighted to have Katarina and Barrie with us today to open the new Sports Centre, and we look forward to providing outstanding facilities to many generations of students and community members in the years to come.”

The opening event saw Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Barrie Wells unveil a commemorative plaque, and join other invited guests for tours of the new facilities – including the chance to see the track and indoor equipment being used by pupils from local schools. Entertainment and healthy refreshments were also on offer for guests.


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