Young gymnast appeals for council chiefs to save leisure centre

Gymnast Lili Soley.

A young gymnast has sent an open letter to councillors urging them to save the leisure centre where she trains from closure.

It was announced this week that Richmondshire Leisure Trust, which runs Colburn Leisure Centre, wanted to terminate its contract to run the premises from the end of November.

If no other organisation can be found to run the facility, it is feared it could close.

The charity said could no longer afford the energy and water bills which had risen from £15,000 last year to an estimated £72,000 this year.

Richmondshire Thirsk Dales Gymnastics Club is several community groups which use the centre.

The club has previously won the British Disability Championship and English Championships.

13-year-old Lili Soley has been training with the club since she was three.

Lili has written a letter to councillors urging them to help save the centre.

She said: “We have six weeks until we are kicked out of our gym because the leisure centre can’t afford to pay the bills. This is because of the cost of living crisis.

“We love our gym and don’t want to leave but they just don’t have the money to be able to have us here.

“We will be so devastated that we can’t do what we love to do. We need funding to be able to stay here and pay the bills. Could you help?”

Lili said that was well as being the home for her gymnastics club, many people come used the centre as it was the hub for her community.

“The leisure centre is utilised for a variety of functions including parties.

“Two weeks ago the centre was filled with people celebrating Fijian day to commemorate there culture.

“For children who struggle with there communication skills it’s a great place to come and socialise. If they have complications at home it’s a great way to come and relax and not have to worry about the stresses of everyday life.

“We are all heartbroken, coaches, gymnasts and parents alike. The leisure centre closing down will be terrible and will effect 400 participants from our gymnastics club alone.

“Our coaches spend over 32 hours of there week to teach young kids and hopefully you can understand our need for your help.”

The club said it had contacted Richmond MP Rishi Sunak and British Gymnastics asking for help.

It is urging others to email the MP at to raise their concerns about the possible closure.

Members of Richmondshire District Council’s senior leadership team are due to discuss the situation today.

Colburn Town Council, which owns the site and issued the lease to the leisure trust, said this week that it was speaking to its solicitors.