Chelmsford's Riverside Leisure Centre was officially opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent on Friday. Accompanied by Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Essex and The Mayor of Chelmsford, The Duke was taken on a tour of the new complex, meeting some of the people who have played a key part in its creation. The journey began with a view of the new flexible 10-lane pool, which has a central boom and moveable floor to allow lessons and public swimming to take place at the same time.
The Duke was also given an insight into one of the most demanding aspects of the construction, with a visit to the newly refurbished ice rink and sports hall. These large existing areas have been improved and completely integrated into the new centre, which opened to the public on Monday 10 June. At the ice rink, the Royal party had a chance to see high level figure skaters and members of the local ice dance club in action.
In the sports hall, The Duke observed a game of Boccia, a Paralympic sport similar to bowls, in which athletes throw, kick or use a ramp to propel a ball as close as possible to a white target 'jack'. The session was part of the 'Sport for Confidence' programme, which is running at Riverside for anyone experiencing barriers getting into sport. Creating an accessible and inclusive environment and encouraging more people to be active has been a guiding principle of the whole project. Throughout his trip, The Duke was shown the completely accessible route from reception to every part of the centre.
With the tour at an end, Chelmsford City Council's Chief Executive, Nick Eveleigh thanked The Duke and paid tribute to everyone who had contributed to the venture: "Undertakings on this scale require great commitment and this fantastic new facility is no exception. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has played a part in creating this asset for our community. May this next iteration of Riverside Leisure Centre continue to serve and inspire our growing city."
Representatives from Sport England were also present at the opening. The organisation has invested £1.5 million of National Lottery funding into the centre. Mike Diaper, Sport England's Director of Children, Young People and Inactivity said he hoped the site's central location and multisport facilities would make it easier for people to get active all year round: "Activity levels across England are rising and centres like Riverside, along with the people who run them, are supporting more people than ever to gain the benefits from an active life. We are delighted to see the opening of Riverside Leisure Centre and to continue to work with Chelmsford City Council. I hope the people of Chelmsford enjoy using this new centre."
The Duke officially opened the new centre by unveiling a commemorative slate plaque, which will be permanently displayed at the main riverbank entrance.
For further information about Riverside, please visit www.chelmsford.gov.uk/leisure-centres/where/riverside-leisure-centre/.
Monday 17 June 2019.