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Former Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington helped the start of building works for the new Rainham Leisure Centre go swimmingly this week.
The four-time Olympic swimming medallist joined Councillor Viddy Persaud, Havering’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure and Everyone Active, for a groundbreaking event, which saw the first spade dug into the ground to mark a significant milestone of the construction of the new state of the art centre, on part of the Rainham Recreation Ground.
Also attending was Cllr Roger Ramsey, Havering’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Tom Fletcher, Area Contract Manager for Everyone Active, Duncan Cogger, Regional Contract Manager, Everyone Active and Adrian Turner, former Olympian and Director of ReCreation.
The new centre will be built using a modern design and will include a range of facilities such as a six-lane swimming pool, dance and spinning studio and a 72-station fitness suite.
It is expected to be completed and handed over to Everyone Active, the company that runs the leisure centres on behalf of the council in the borough, in May 2023 and will open to the public shortly after.
ReCreation, part of Olympian-led Sporting House Group, will manage the design and build of the new facility.
Cllr Persaud said: “We were delighted to welcome Rebecca to Rainham to join us and Everyone Active in marking this first big milestone in the building of what will be a fantastic new facility for not only the community in Rainham, but for the borough.”
Rebecca, who won gold twice at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and two bronze medals at London 2012, said: “A centre like this is so important for the local community, not just as a way of staying healthy through exercise but also as a place for people of all ages to meet and socialise.
“Thousands of children will also have the opportunity to learn to swim here for decades to come, which is a vital skill that could save their life. And, who knows, one day a future Olympian might be discovered here, too!”
Following the ground breaking event, Rebecca met with some pupils from Rainham Village Primary School, which is next door to where the new centre will be.
The pupils were delighted to see that Rebecca had brought her Olympic medals with her for them to see and enjoyed a special question and answer session.
Following the closure of the Chafford Sports Complex, the council agreed to construct a new leisure centre to replace the dated building which the council did not own.