By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
A number of celebrities have been confirmed for Ashfield District Council’s “posh” grand opening of the new £15.5m Kirkby Leisure Centre in September.
The authority will officially open the new facility to the public on August 6 before a weekend of events is held between September 16-18, marking the opening of a new leisure centre almost 90 years in the making.
Now the council has revealed at least five celebrities have been confirmed for the September event, including a number of medal-winning athletes.
They include Ashfield’s own Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer Ollie Hynd MBE, Commonwealth gold medallist swimmer Ross Davenport and multi-time gold medallist hurdler Colin Jackson.
The event will also include former Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Ola Jordan and football freestyler Ben Nuttall. All will appear on Saturday, September 17.
The news was confirmed in papers published ahead of a council cabinet meeting on Tuesday (July 19), with Councillor Rachel Madden (Ash Ind), portfolio holder for leisure, also announcing more celebrities will be revealed next week.
Once open, the new facility will feature a 25-metre, four-lane swimming pool with a moveable floor and splash zone.
It will also include five ‘clip and climb’ walls, a soft play area, a main hall, an 85-station gym, group fitness studios, a health hub, a café, a sauna and steam room, a meeting room and a sensory room.
And speaking following Tuesday’s meeting, Cllr Madden, who last week described the September 17 opening party as the “posh” event, said the “real star” of the show will be its new swimming pool.
She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We can’t wait for the celebrity-endorsed opening – we’re hoping to attract people who wouldn’t usually go to a leisure centre.
“Of course, the real star of the show will be the swimming pool. This is something that the people of Kirkby have been promised since 1935.
“I recently visited the new centre and it is going to be amazing. From the swimming pool to a larger sports hall with bleacher seating to hold cinema events, a state-of-the-art gym and much, much more.
“We can’t wait to show off the new centre – it’s amazing.”
The news comes as the authority also makes progress on a new learner pool at Hucknall Leisure Centre, which is expected to open to the public next spring.
Construction work is now underway on the Hucknall pool in what will form part of a £5.5m investment by the authority.
The new facilities are part of a wider £22.5m leisure investment by the council, which includes the new Kirkby centre alongside a raft of improvements to Sutton’s Lammas Leisure Centre and other parts of the facilities in Hucknall.
And figures published by the authority have confirmed membership numbers at its three leisure centres have risen by 35.42 per cent since the start of the pandemic, with 7,723 memberships valid now compared with 5,703 in 2020.