LETTER: Health and fitness group is at risk

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The Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre 50+ Group, for those who are not familiar with it, is just what the name implies; a group of people aged 50 and over who are keen to stay fit and healthy in body and mind by enjoying regular sport and social activities at the leisure centre.

The group has steadily grown from strength to strength over the last few years and currently numbers around 450 people who, for a very affordable entrance fee, can participate in a wide range of sporting and leisure activities on a pick-and-mix basis. 50+ days were always held on Thursdays, but because of their popularity there’s now a 50+ day on Mondays too.

Both days are always well attended and with an ageing population and ever more people coming to live in the Horsham area the numbers can only increase in the future.

50+ activities are wide-ranging and the group can currently use all the facilities on offer at the leisure centre. The three large sports halls under one roof allow for a variety of sports and activities to take place at one and the same time.

So for example, some members can be enjoying table tennis, while others are practising their archery skills, while yet others may be playing badminton or bouncing up and down on trampolines, practising tenso-chi or honing their tap dancing skills. In addition there’s the large upstairs studio for shortmat bowls and exercise classes such as aerobics, pilates, zumba and yoga.

Our age group is exhorted to stay fit and healthy and this is definitely a fun way to do just that.

The ability to run different activities ‘in tandem’ is essential if the 50+ group is to continue and prosper. That is why it is so important that the council does not try to restrict the centre to one single sports hall which would have to cater for many of the above activities in just one space. The idea of separating badminton from archery or table tennis from dancing by means of screens or curtains is frankly ludicrous.

It is essential to have two separate, multi-purpose sports halls, each with its own special type of flooring to enable sensible scheduling of all the activities now on offer.

At present the 50+ schedules are only disrupted somewhat during school holidays, when children’s groups take over some of the areas in the centre for their special events and activities.

If the new leisure centre were to be scaled down from three to only one sports hall (and given the restrictions on allowing adults and children to share space), the 50+ Group’s days could become very limited in scope and it might even mean the eventual end of an extremely successful and enjoyable way for the older generation of the district to stay physically and socially active.

By now Horsham District Council have probably realised that the 50+ Group is a force to be reckoned with. We were among the first to oppose the council’s plan to demolish the centre back in November 2011 and ever since then members of the 50+ group have supported the Joint User Group in its efforts to ensure that, when the redevelopment of ‘The Quadrant’ takes place, the existing leisure centre is replaced with something that is at least as good – and preferably even better – than the one we now enjoy.

Come on HDC - don’t short-change us!

SHEILA WHITE

(Member of the 50+ Group), Dorking Road, Warnham