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The new £15.5M Down Leisure Centre opened yesterday in Downpatrick with around 100 guests checking out the facilities. It's the second large scale leisure centre to open in the district following last years Newry Leisure Centre opening marking an investment of almost £40M.

The ribbon was cut on the state-of-the-art centre by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin.

Kicking up a splash at the new Down Leisure centre pool are (from left) Daisy McLaughlin (3) from Downpatrick, Beth Kelly (3) from Lisburn, Zach Kidd (9) from Castlewellan and Cohan Doyle (2) from  Castlewellan.
Kicking up a splash at the new Down Leisure centre pool are (from left) Daisy McLaughlin (3) from Downpatrick, Beth Kelly (3) from Lisburn, Zach Kidd (9) from Castlewellan and Cohan Doyle (2) from Castlewellan.

Facilities include an 85 station Wellness Technogym with cutting edge technology, luxury Vitality Health Suite, spin studio, four-court sports hall and six-lane swimm

ing pool and learner pool with moveable floor, which can be adjusted for different ages and abilities.

The new facilities are also a boost to the Council’s ‘Be Active’ campaign, launched last year, which aims to motivate people to undertake more activity in their day-to-day lives. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Councillor Murnin said, “I am thrilled to see Down Leisure Centre now complete and open to the public. This is an important strategic project for Council as it contributes towards both the economic and social development of our district.

“The opening of the new leisure centre will help drive our Be Active campaign, the ethos of which is to promote better physical health and mental wellbeing.  With people leading increasingly busy lives, we often forget to look after our own physical and mental health.

“The Council plays an important leadership role here and the new facilities are intended to reduce health inequalities by encouraging people to get active by enabling access to services, facilities and open spaces for all of our citizens, so that they can lead healthier and happier lives.”

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s Corporate Plan 2015-19 made a commitment to improving the quality of life for all its citizens. Among its priorities were the replacement of the two existing leisure centres in Newry and Downpatrick.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's Chair of the Active and Healthy Communities Committee, Councillor Gareth Sharvin, NMDDC Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin and NMDDC Chief Executive Liam Hannaway at the official opening of Down Leisure Centre.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's Chair of the Active and Healthy Communities Committee, Councillor Gareth Sharvin, NMDDC Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin and NMDDC Chief Executive Liam Hannaway at the official opening of Down Leisure Centre.

The new Down Leisure, which fills 6,105m² over three floors, is a dramatic transformation from the town’s previous two-floor 3,403m² building which opened back in 1980.

Councillor Gareth Sharvin, Chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s Active and Healthy Communities Committee, said, “We hear almost every day now messages about the importance of physical activity in our lives. Unfortunately, however, we are all around 20% less active than in the 1960s, and if current trends continue, it will be 35% less active by 2030. Many people don’t realise that physical activity has significant benefits for health, both physical and mental, and can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.

“The new premier Down Leisure Centre provides a new focus for the communities of our district and provides new facilities for staff and members of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to work together to help our citizens achieve their health and wellbeing goals."

Commending everyone involved in the completion of the project, Liam Hannaway, Chief Executive of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, welcomed the major investment in leisure and sport.

“We are supporting our communities and our district’s ability to attract world class sporting events,” he said. “It is an honour to officially open this leisure centre today. Today marks a very special occasion in which a centre that opened in May 1980 has been replaced with this state-of-the-art premier centre.”

MPs, MLAs, councillors, Disability Sports NI, SANDSA Executive and community representatives joined the Council’s Senior Management Team and Leisure Services staff to celebrate the official opening of the new Down Leisure Centre. Tributes were also paid to architects Kennedy & Fitzgerald and contractor Felix O’Hare, who contributed to the success of this project.

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