Hartlepool sports venue celebrates 30th birthday

Belle Vue Community and Sports centre celebrates its 30th anniversaary, centre manager Alex Sedgwick and chairman Bob Farrow are joined by staff and board members

Belle Vue Community and Sports centre celebrates its 30th anniversaary, centre manager Alex Sedgwick and chairman Bob Farrow are joined by staff and board members

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Happy birthday to Belle Vue Community, Sports and Youth Centre which is 30 today!

The thriving centre is a hub of the local community, and offers sport and social facilities for people of all ages.

It is an achievement to have lasted this long

Bob Farrow

It started with a small sports hall in Kendal Road, Hartlepool, which first opened on this day in 1985.

It was after the Belle Vue Social Club donated a piece of land, and fundraising by local residents, with support from the council and local businesses, to provide somewhere for the residents and in particular, children.

But the residents, including original manager Bob Farrow, always dreamed of something bigger.

After years of hard work, that dream became reality in October 2002 when an impressive £2 million extension was completed as a flagship project of the New Deal for Communities initiative.

The then Prime Minister Tony Blair officially opened the building the following February and said it showed what residents and others could achieve.

Bob, who is chairman of the centre, said: “It is an achievement to have lasted this long especially with all the cuts in the community sector.”

The centre gets around 100,000 visitors a year who use its youth club, sports halls, children’s nursery, fitness suite, dance studio, and computer-equipped training and conference rooms.

Many of the youngsters, who have used the centre have gone on to work there as staff or valued volunteers.

Board member Kevin Cranney said: “This is a shining example of how community centres can operate.”