Olympian Beth Tweddle beaming at gym's opening

St Helens Star: Beth Tweddle and the Mayor Andy Bowden officially open the St Helens Gymnastic Academy   DGP020514 Beth Tweddle and the Mayor Andy Bowden officially open the St Helens Gymnastic Academy DGP020514

THREE time Olympian Beth Tweddle was the guest of honour at the grand opening of a plush new gymnastic centre.

The bronze medallist at London 2012 provided a dash of inspiration for the members of St Helens Gymnastic Academy, who have moved into their new home on Delphwood Drive in Sutton.

The switch from the YMCA on North Road after 38 years was a dream come true for the head coach and club manager Jane Cox.

Jane said: “It was time to move on and expand because the demand for growth was amazing. My mum Maureen Simpson opened it originally because I wanted to be a gymnast so I have been there since day one.

“And now we have in excess of 250 members. It’s been down to a lot of fundraising and using my own personal money.

“But whereas we had restricted training hours at the YMCA, now it’s 24/7 and we can now expand into different disciplines and use the club facilities for longer. We will also be able to expand the boys’ club.

“It’s very exciting. The day of the opening was amazing and the atmosphere was so relaxed. A lot of children and their parents were there and I think they were a little bit star struck.

“Beth gave the children a motivational speech. She was lovely and very professional. You can tell she’s a real people person.

“This is someone who changed the face of gymnastics.”

Jane was also full of praise for the Mayor of St Helens, Andy Bowden, who wasn’t shy about having a go on the high beam. “He is such a funny guy,” she said. “He put out lots of Tweets about how much he enjoyed it.”

With 25 coaches and demonstrators, Jane said generations have come through the club.

“We are a tight knit group and proud of what we do. I won’t have it said that all teenagers are lay-abouts. We have well-rounded teenagers here who give something back to the community. They are fantastic.”

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