I read the report on the uncertain future of the Young at Heart Club in the Sovereign Centre with more than a little trepidation. We have been hearing rumours about the likelihood of the members being deprived of the badminton and indoor bowls and other facilities and we could not believe the woolly-headed thinking and so-called planning behind the idea.
Chris Gillings’s comments on the club were very much to the point and I would heartily endorse her view that the club is much more than simply a sports facility. It really is a social gathering and I believe that many of its members rely on the twice-weekly contact to keep themselves young at heart in every sense of the expression.
It is a self-supporting, self-managing group which asks for very little from the management of the Sovereign Centre and it provides a guaranteed income to the centre, supports the cafe and buys all its own equipment.
So the council in its infinite wisdom is planning to put trampolines where the club has had badminton courts for 25 years. One morning in 2016, a trampoline was put on the space normally reserved for one badminton court and between 8.30am and 1pm not one single person used the trampoline.
The council therefore concludes that the centre will make three times the profit if it puts in three trampolines. You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?
It has also been suggested that school children will make good use of the trampolines. But as schools are strapped for cash as everyone knows and swimming lessons are an insoluble issue for most schools, how could they possibly consider trampolining? I dread to think what ‘Health and Safety’ will make of the idea of school kids flying gaily through the air before heading for A&E during term time.
The Sovereign Centre should feel proud of its Young at Heart element and be battling on its behalf. I doubt there is another club in the country where the combined ages of four people on a badminton court exceeds 300 years twice a week, every week. We live in an era in which much is said about social provision for our ageing population and the Sovereign Centre, aka the council, must understand the important role it is playing and must continue to play in Eastbourne and in this context.