Champagne corks were popping as residents gathered to relaunch a Sheffield leisure centre – less than a year after being told it was to shut.
It was the day many thought they would never see, after Sheffield Council first proposed the closure of Stocksbridge Leisure Centre last year, as part of £50 million budget cut plans.
However, determined residents battled to keep the centre open, taking over the running of the facility and launching 4SLC Trust – a not-for-profit company which has overseen an extensive refurbishment.
The mood was celebratory as boxer Glyn Rhodes attended to officially reopen the facility, paying tribute to the community’s hard work and determination.
Faye Howard, 4SLC director, said: “It’s been an emotional day for all of us.
“I can’t believe how many people turned up for the relaunch, but I bet it was close to a thousand.
“The directors and volunteers of the 4SLC Trust were a group of strangers when we came together 10 months ago to fight this closure and I think what we’ve achieved, and the friendships and bonds been made along the way, is simply amazing.
“What we’re celebrating has, at times, felt like an impossibility, but we really did it.”
The relaunch event doubled up as Christmas fair yesterday afternoon with almost 40 stalls, choir performances and a Santa’s grotto at the centre.
There were also sporting displays and demonstrations of boxing, judo, taekwondo, table tennis, trampolining and squash, as well as performances from a team at Greentop Circus.
Faye said: “We’re under no illusion that, whatever work has been done up to this point, the hardest part is still to come, but we have plenty of reason to celebrate.
“We’ve had highs and lows, but this centre has brought the people of this community together.
“We can’t thank enough the volunteers and the businesses that have donated time, energy and materials.”