A Day Of Celebration In Downpatrick As Ribbon Is Cut On The New Down Leisure Centre
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s much anticipated £15.5 million Down Leisure Centre is officially open for business.
Representing a major investment in the heart of Downpatrick, the ribbon was cut on the state-of-the-art centre on Thursday 22 November by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin. Facilities include an 85 station Wellness Technogym with cutting edge technology, luxury Vitality Health Suite, spin studio, four-court sports hall and six-lane swimming pool and learner pool with moveable floor, which can be adjusted for different ages and abilities.
The new facilities are also a boost to the Council’s ‘Be Active’ campaign, launched last year, which aims to motivate people to undertake more activity in their day-to-day lives. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Councillor Murnin said, “I am thrilled to see Down Leisure Centre now complete and open to the public. This is an important strategic project for Council as it contributes towards both the economic and social development of our district.
“The opening of the new leisure centre will help drive our Be Active campaign, the ethos of which is to promote better physical health and mental wellbeing. With people leading increasingly busy lives, we often forget to look after our own physical and mental health.
“The Council plays an important leadership role here and the new facilities are intended to reduce health inequalities by encouraging people to get active by enabling access to services, facilities and open spaces for all of our citizens, so that they can lead healthier and happier lives.”
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s Corporate Plan 2015-19 made a commitment to improving the quality of life for all its citizens. Among its priorities were the replacement of the two existing leisure centres in Newry and Downpatrick. With the new Newry Leisure Centre opened last year, this represents a total investment of almost £40m.
The new Down Leisure, which fills 6,105m² over three floors, is a dramatic transformation from the town’s previous two-floor 3,403m² building which opened back in 1980.
Councillor Murnin continued, “Such facilities are important in the provision of sport and recreation, especially to young people who are just starting out in their sporting activities. Centres like Down Leisure Centre provide a gathering place around which social activities occur. They provide a sense of pride of place and belonging that can add value to community and indeed the entire district.
“The Council is committed that all people in Newry, Mourne and Down enjoy good health and wellbeing via the district’s Community Plan and the ‘Be Active’ campaign is a superb way to help support this outcome. A healthy and active lifestyle contributes positively to physical, mental and social wellbeing and as an organisation we want to encourage all of our citizens to ‘Be Active, Your Way, Every Day.”
Councillor Gareth Sharvin, Chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s Active and Healthy Communities Committee, said, “We hear almost every day now messages about the importance of physical activity in our lives. Unfortunately, however, we are all around 20% less active than in the 1960s, and if current trends continue, it will be 35% less active by 2030. Many people don’t realise that physical activity has significant benefits for health, both physical and mental, and can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
“The new premier Down Leisure Centre provides a new focus for the communities of our district and provides new facilities for staff and members of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to work together to help our citizens achieve their health and wellbeing goals.
“We are devoted to delivering for our communities and this facility certainly does deliver. It is a very impressive achievement for our Council and one we should all encourage our citizens to use. We will strive to build a ‘Be Active’ community. Our leisure facilities are accessible to everyone and provide a vast range of activities to include in your active lifestyle”
Commending everyone involved in the completion of the project, Liam Hannaway, Chief Executive of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, welcomed the major investment in leisure and sport.
“We are supporting our communities and our district’s ability to attract world class sporting events,” he said. “It is an honour to officially open this leisure centre today. Today marks a very special occasion in which a centre that opened in May 1980 has been replaced with this state-of-the-art premier centre.”
Michael Lipsett, Director of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s Active and Healthy Communities Committee said, “Alongside the opening of this new complex we are promoting our ‘Be Active’ campaign which has emanated from the Council’s Corporate Plan and embraces its Corporate, Directorate and Strategic Objectives, Community Plan, Sports Facility Strategy and the Play Strategy. The ‘Be Active’ campaign will be visible throughout all our leisure facilities, with an energetic look and feel the ‘Be Active’ element of the campaign is a fresh approach to promoting a healthy lifestyle combining physical activity and recreation activities to encourage a healthier way of living.”
MPs, MLAs, councillors, Disability Sports NI, SANDSA Executive and community representatives joined the Council’s Senior Management Team and Leisure Services staff to celebrate the official opening of the new Down Leisure Centre. Tributes were also paid to architects Kennedy & Fitzgerald and contractor Felix O’Hare, who contributed to the success of this project.
Almost 100 guests attending the red ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday before enjoying a tour of the new centre.