Over 100 guests gathered on 6 March 2019 to see YMCA East Surrey’s new Inclusive Sports Facility in Redhill declared officially open by 16-time Paralympic medallist, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Fay Hart, a 28-year-old member of YMCA East Surrey Boccia team, has been going to the YMCA for three year and explained what this new centre and the YMCA means to her.
“I have celebral palsy and epilepsy. When I first came I was nervous and not very fit. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to throw a ball but now with time and practice I can, and now I’m on the England talent pathway.
She added: “Boccia has changed my life and my attitude. I have had quite a tough life outside but all the problems you have to go through just go away. I enjoy the banter with my team-mates and the camaraderie means a lot to me. Without the YMCA, I don’t know where I’d be.”
The new inclusive sports facility will expand YMCA East Surrey’s ability to support those with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
Baroness Grey-Thompson said: “It’s a beautiful building and it’s really important that disable people have the opportunity to exercise.
“Physical activity is so important for disable people to get to work and in their daily lives. This place is just brilliant. I’m very happy with the turnout. We can see how much it means that so many people came because there’s plenty of other things that they could be doing today. Hopefully they’ll get lots of disabled people coming in to use it.”
The new 2.6 million underfloor-heated sports hall took almost nine years from it conception to its completion. The facility is fully accessible and completely disability friendly.
YMCA East Surrey’s Chief Executive, Ian Burks, said: “I’m relieved and very proud to see it finally happen, but the real challenge starts here. I think the most challenging thing was raising the money. A lot of it is thanks t o people who got on their bikes and climbed mountains and raised over half a million pounds for us. We’re very lucky that we’ve got a lot of lovely and generous people behind us.
“When Fay talked about what it means to her you just realise that it’s all worth it. We are delighted that our new centre will be a major move in this part of Surrey to provide accessible sport for people with disabilities and health issues in the years to come.”