Thursday 6 October 2016

Sheffield’s new, top class sports and leisure venue played host to a top-class sporting legend yesterday, as Lord Coe officially opened Graves Health & Sports Centre during his London 2012 legacy tour of the city.

The centre opened its doors to the public on 1 September, following a £16million redevelopment, incorporating a major fitness suite and studios, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, two brand new swimming pools, a dedicated gymnastics and trampolining hall plus being home to specialist health and research facilities as part of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM).

One of Sheffield’s most famous sporting sons, Lord Coe visited the centre as part of a day-long stay in the city to see first-hand how Sheffield is playing a key role in delivering a sport, health and wellbeing legacy. In his speech at the unveiling ceremony Lord Coe said: “If sport was that important in the city when I arrived, it has even greater importance now. The city has embraced sport as a much broader concept. Sheffield is an extraordinary story, not just as a template for other cities in this country but cities around the world.”

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “We were thrilled to welcome Lord Coe to open our fantastic new facilities here at Graves yesterday. He is a true example of how people can achieve their dreams through hard work and determination. We know many people have been inspired by the Olympics and Paralympics and can proudly say that Sheffield has great facilities on offer to help people achieve those dreams and aspirations.

“Through our excellent partnerships with the NCSEM, Sport England, the LTA, British Gymnastics and Places for People Leisure we’re providing high quality and affordability across a wide variety of activities, plus expert health advice all under one roof.

“Graves is the result of our shared commitment to a healthier population and will play a big part in helping us achieve our goal to be the most active city in the UK by 2020. The centre brings huge benefits for the health and wellbeing of people in the area and I am confident that we have something here for all ages, abilities and interests. I would encourage people to follow Lord Coe’s lead, pay a visit to this top-class fitness venue and take that first step to a healthier you.”

The redevelopment, which replaces the old centre that opened almost 50 years ago, has two brand new pools – a six lane 25 metre pool plus a dedicated teaching pool – that cater for the keen swimmers as well as the beginners, and customers’ fitness and workout needs are easily accommodated through the 100+ station gymnasium and three workout studios hosting over 50 fitness classes per week.

The centre welcomes people of all ages and abilities to take part in physical activity and exercise. Burt Marsh, 92 year old war veteran has been a member of Graves for seven years following a referral after an operation. He is now is now a regular at the new development, which helps him retain his mobility, improves his health and wellbeing and contributes to his happy outlook. Mr Marsh said: “The centre is a valuable asset to Sheffield and the local community. If laughter is the best medicine then exercise is the second best medicine and I certainly get a lot of both here at Graves.”

The centre is also home to first class tennis facilities with eight indoor and six outdoor courts plus the option of professional coaching sessions.

Cathie Sabin, President of the Lawn Tennis Association said: “We are thrilled to be supporting the addition of two indoor courts at Graves investing over £800,000 into the centre. The aim of British Tennis is to get more people playing tennis more often and this is a great example of partnership working in practice to create a great facility for the people in Sheffield and the Region. The new indoor facilities are very much integrated into our wider work in growing the game across the city of Sheffield in local communities with local partners to get people back on court, keep them playing throughout the year and help people in Sheffield be more active. It is great to see growth in people playing already this year and we are very excited about the future.”

Graves has also been named as a Centre of Excellence for trampolining, one of only three in the country. The dedicated gymnastics and trampoline hall has been designed and funded by British Gymnastics investing £200,000 to support the construction, fit out and equipment of the hall.

Dave Marshall, Participation Director for British Gymnastics, said “The development of new gymnastics centres is a key part of our strategy to increase capacity within the sport and British Gymnastics is delighted to have worked closely with Sheffield City Council and Places for People Leisure to enhance gymnastics provision locally. This gymnastics and trampoline facility will provide an excellent new venue for hundreds of participants in the area to take part in our sport as well as providing a High Performance venue that allows talented athletes to achieve their potential.”

The appointed operator, Places for People Leisure are thrilled with the first month’s activity and have already seen visitor numbers double since the centre opened in September. Richard Cowley, Area Manager at Places for People Leisure said: “We are extremely pleased to be working in partnership with Sheffield City Council to ensure that we meet the needs of the local community and encourage more people to participate in physical activity. Our goal at Places for People Leisure is to ‘create active places and healthy people’ and I am confident that the impressive new Graves Health and Sports Centre will provide more opportunities for the local community to get more active.”

Graves is the third location in Sheffield to provide NCSEM facilities, where community healthcare sits alongside community leisure and sport. NCSEM brings together clinical services, sport and exercise specialists and health professionals to make it easier for physical activity to become part of the treatment for a range of health conditions. People can be referred and start treatment all in one place.

Sir Andrew Cash, Chief Executive for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that physical activity performed on a regular basis is associated with significant positive physical and mental health. Through our Move More campaign and the provision of top class facilities like Graves we can get more people more active and be the city that leads by example in this country. More people are living with chronic health conditions and those conditions can often be managed through exercise. Here at Graves, the third NCSEM centre in Sheffield, people with health problems can be directly referred to exercise as medicine to help them live happier and healthier lives. The centre is delivering across all areas of our vision to support elite athletes, a healthy population and a healthy workforce.”

Sport England invested £2.5m of National Lottery funding from its Iconic Facilities Fund towards the redevelopment of the centre, and worked closely with the project team to provide detailed advice and support on this development.

Director of Property at Sport England, Charles Johnston, said: “We are delighted to offer £2.25 million of National Lottery funding to help people in Sheffield live more active lives. The centre’s ground breaking decision to place fitness and expert health advice side by side, puts wellbeing at the heart of the community. Thanks to the variety of sports and activities on offer, Graves Sports and Health Centre will make being active more accessible, affordable and fun I would especially encourage anyone who has been thinking about getting active to check out these new facilities and see what’s on offer.”

Various membership packages are available. People can sign up for membership now online at www.graveshealthandsportscentre.org or by phone on 0114 2839900, or in person at the new centre.

More details about the facilities are available at www.graveshealthandsportscentre.org or www.facebook.com/graveshealthandsportscentre.