By Ruth Crosbie
Passing on the baton to swimming stars of the future, today former Commonwealth and European champion, and two times Olympic swimmer Ross Murdoch helped to officially open the new Helensburgh Leisure Centre.
Ross, pictured below left, started his swimming career in Helensburgh competing at his first ever swimming gala. Today, the current 200-metre British record holder and Commonwealth bronze medallist joined Helensburgh Amateur Swim Club to try out the new pool.
The £22 million leisure centre and swimming pool is part of Argyll and Bute Council’s ongoing regeneration plan to transform Helensburgh’s Waterfront, creating more recreation and job opportunities in the town.
The new facility features a 25-metre main swimming pool and training pool, luxury health suite with steam room and sauna, a café and shop, fitness studios and a gym with panoramic views of the Clyde.
The centre, operated by liveArgyll, is fully accessible and includes a changing places facility, a floating moveable floor in the training pool and poolside pods for anyone with mobility issues to access the pool independently. As part of the project, the council installed new flood defences at the Waterfront.
Argyll and Bute Council appointed contractors Heron Bros Ltd to start work in August 2020. The project represents investment in Helensburgh of more than £22.3 million. This includes £5million awarded from the UK Government Libor Fund, administered by the Royal Navy and £100, 000 from sportscotland.
At the civic opening today. Provost of Argyll and Bute, Maurice Corry alongside Councillor Gary Mulvaney unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion.
Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Policy Lead for Finance and Commercial Services: “It’s an incredibly proud moment to officially open this new fantastic community asset in Helensburgh. Delivering this legacy build has been a huge achievement despite the challenges of building in the midst of a global pandemic. The project has provided vital employment to contractors, and essential work experience for a range of trainee and graduate roles including apprentice electricians and plumbers to graduate civil engineers.
We are delighted to see so many people making use of the new facilities and as we continue to transform the waterfront into an attractive and vibrant area, we look forward to creating opportunities for future generations to enjoy.”
In honour of the Royal Navy, the new gym in the leisure centre is named the Neptune Suite.
Captain Nick Gibbons, Captain of HMS Neptune, said: “This is a fantastic addition to the local amenities and one that I am sure will be enjoyed by Base personnel and their families who live and work in the area. I am also delighted that the naming of the Neptune suite within this impressive facility reflects the close relationship between the Naval Base and the community, a supportive relationship that continues to ensure our future plans are aligned and mutually beneficial.”
Andrew Nisbet, Chair of LiveArgyll: “In today’s challenging times, it’s extremely pleasing to see Argyll and Bute Council’s continued commitment to leisure, health and wellbeing services and to enhancing the infrastructure of the Helensburgh and Lomond area. We are delighted with the new facility. Feedback from our users is overwhelmingly positive, our participation rates and membership uptake is fantastic with many new members accessing our services.”
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland, said: “In these challenging times, it is fantastic to see the continued commitment of Argyll and Bute Council and LiveArgyll to providing more and better opportunities for people to take part in sport and physical activity.
“This new swimming pool will be a huge asset to the local community of Helensburgh and beyond, particularly due to the care taken to ensure that it will be accessible and inclusive. That’s why we were delighted to provide £100,000 investment from our Sports Facilities Fund to support this important project.”
Heron Bros Ltd, the main contractors built the new leisure centre with strict Covid measures in place throughout the build.
Captain Nick Gibbons, Captain of HMS Neptune, Andrew Nisbet, Chair of LiveArgyll and Provost of Argyll and Bute, Maurice Corry alongside Councillor Gary Mulvaney.