Youth Zone nearing completion

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AS the countdown to the opening of Wigan Youth Zone ticks away, the finishing touches are now being put to its impressive interior.

Many of the state-of-the art facilities are now beginning to take shape. The protective plastic sheets inside the great sports hall have been taken off and the inside is starting to look less like a building site and much more like the hub of youth development that it will be.

Elevated view of the outdoor football pitches

Elevated view of the outdoor football pitches

The recruitment process has been under way for some time now with the positions slowly being filled.

One of those jobs – perhaps one of the most important – is that of the general manager. For businessmen Dave Whelan and cousins Bill and Martin Ainscough, whose brainchild the Youth Zone is, it is the appointment over which they took the most care.

And they opted for former sergeant major John Harker, who met Bill and Martin on site yesterday to look over the final work in progress. Mr Harker, joined the army at 16, serving for 32 years.

He said: “I’ve left the military for this job, not just any job, I left it specifically for this one. I had six and a half years left to serve but I left that to come here to do this job for the youth of Wigan.

“My role will basically be managing the whole facility, making sure that the kids get a really good experience, that all the staff are working well together and providing a top notch service and making sure that the young people of Wigan get the benefit out of this fantastic facility that Bill and Martin and Dave Whelan have put together.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me and my staff to work in an environment such as this, it’s amazing.”

For the Ainscough cousins and Mr Whelan, it was Mr Harker’s attitude and management abilities which put him above the many others who applied for the role.

Martin Ainscough said: “I’ve recruited John, first of all for his management capability. He spent his working career in the army and ended up with the rank of regimental sergeant major.

“We’re very confident that John ,with his interpersonal skills and organisational skills, will be a fantastic asset to Wigan Youth Zone. He comes with great recommendation in terms of his ability and his enthusiasm.

“Fundamentally, I recruit for attitude rather than experience. Somebody might say ‘you should go for someone who has worked in a youth facility before.’

“I’m more bothered about getting someone with the right attitude.”