Families paid a nostalgic visit to Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium – home of Olympic golden girl Jess Ennis-Hill – when the stadium gates were opened for one of its final events before being demolished.
A free family fun day attracted hundreds of visitors to the stadium yesterday to raise money for the Bluebell Wood children’s hospice in North Anston.
The event was one of the last ever at the 25,000 seater stadium, where Jess Ennis-Hill trains, before it is razed.
Sheffield Council, which built the stadium in 1991 for the World Student Games, announced its closure earlier this year, saying the venue is running at a £700,000-a-year loss.
Families at the event spoke of their sadness at the plan to bulldoze the UK’s second largest athletics stadium.
Mum-of-three Lynne Newcombe, from Treeton, whose two sons took part in a taekwondo display and her daughter in a dance display, said: “It doesn’t say much about the Olympic legacy if they are going to close down a sports facility like this.
“It is removing facilities from the north of England and will not do much for local grassroots sport.”
Her neighbour Lindsay Hibberd said: “It’s really really sad – I have some special memories here, such as getting engaged at a dance event here for the Millennium.
“I also did Race for Life here a couple of years ago.”
Elle Southall, from Hackenthorpe, said: “It’s such a shame they are closing the stadium but you never hear about anything happening here any more now like you used to years ago when they had big concerts.
“Rather than closing it down why don’t they market it better and attract people back – over the summer it should be used every single day for the kids.
“Turning it around and making it a success would also create jobs.”
Nicola Turner, a 38-year-old mum-of-three from Rotherham, said: “It used to be the bees knees when it first opened so it is sad it has come to this and the area will be losing something else – it’s the end of an era.”
Rachel Butcher, who helped organised the fun day at the stadium with Natalie Doherty, said: “When we booked it we never realised we would be making history by staging one of the last ever event here.”
Bouncy castles, a Forumla 1 car simulator, ice skating and zorb balls were among activities on offer for children.
There were also stalls, a music stage and visits from cartoon characters including Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Square Pants and Micky and Minnie Mouse
Co-organiser Natalie said: “The day is all about trying to make a difference.
“I organised a charity event last year and really enjoyed it so I wanted to do something even bigger and better this year.
“Bluebell Wood do such a good job that we hope to raise lots of money.”
Harry Finlayson, from Maltby, attended the event to help Bluebell Wood after his daughter died there aged 13.
Georgia, who would have turned 15 on Saturday, spent the last six weeks of her life at the hospice.
Her dad said: “If it had not been for Bluebell Wood we would not have coped.
“Georgia developed a brain tumour and we did not have the facilities we needed for her at home, so she used to got to the hospice regularly and spent her last six weeks there.”