Weather stops Sophie

A PLANNED Royal visit to the region was cancelled yesterday because of the bad weather.

Billingham Forum was due to welcome Sophie, Countess of Wessex, to officially open the new-look building, which has undergone an £18.5m refurbishment.

The venue, which was originally built in the 1960s, re-opened in June after an 18-month closure for the facelift to take place.

But the Countess, below, was unable to make the trip, where it was planned for her to get a full tour of the complex and meet staff and representatives of the sports groups which use the centre, because of the weather.

The Royal visit will now take place at a later date where the Countess will perform the opening ceremony.

The original Forum was officially opened by The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, in October 1967.

It also has a new sauna and steam room, a sports injury centre, a newly developed sports hall alongside fitness studios and a new dedicated soft play area.

Steve Chaytor, managing director of Tees Active, which runs the facility along with Stockton Borough Council, described the Forum as a “truly unique facility” and said it was “the North’s premier public leisure destination”.