Club needs springboard to expand its facilities

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THE SPECTRUM Gymnastics Club is hoping it will be third time lucky in its desperate search to find a new centre to expand its activities in Bury St Edmunds.

Twice in the past year negotiations have fallen through for it to take over buildings, but now it is pinning its hopes on getting planning permission to move from Western Way to Northern Way.

It currently has some 450 gymnasts, the majority aged under 15 years old, and wants to expand general membership, school liaison development, special needs and more inter-club competitions.

The club, formed in 1995, says its Western Way premises have become economically inviable and suffer problems with leaks.

“We can’t survive much longer where we are,” said head coach/manager Jean Mealham.

Chairman Ken Neale said it was hoping for a five-figure grant from the British Gymnastics Association to help fund a move, but wanted to attract local companies as sponsors too.

If you can sponsor the club, call Mr Neale on 01284701986 or 07944 616874

With the Olympics approaching, Spectrum anticipated more young people would be interested in joining, having seen coverage on television, which happened after the last games.

Last year, in support of one of the thwarted applications, Mr Neale had written to St Edmundsbury Borough Council to stress why the club was so important to the town.

He wrote: “We feel the club provides a very worthwhile recreational facility, keeping children and young people not only fit but involved and interested in sport.

“The club has a high percentage of girls in its membership, through to teenage years.

“It is recognised it is very difficult to keep girls involved in sport through their adolescent years and gymnastics is the ideal sport to accomplish this.”

Spectrum caters for everyone, from mother and toddler groups to gymnasts competing nationally.

At just under 8,000 sq ft the Northern Way building is only slightly larger than the one in Western Way, but has a better layout for the club’s growing needs, said Mr Neale.

He hopes the council will give permission to change the building to leisure use early next month.