A sneaky peek at Youth Zone

Bernard Edmunds, Sarah Smout, Martin Ainscough and John Harker MBE General Manager WYZ
Bernard Edmunds, Sarah Smout, Martin Ainscough and John Harker MBE General Manager WYZ

MANY of the folk who have helped turn a long-cherished Wigan dream into reality have been able to see it for themselves for the first time.

Scores of folk, including official business sponsors, spent an evening at the multi-million-pound new Youth Zone. And the overwhelming consensus was that it is money incredibly well-spent.

The Boys and Girls’ Club will officially open on June 8 with a spectacular day of celebrations involving Mesnes Park, a marching band parade around the town centre and an evening firework display.

And organisers have confirmed that Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed to perform the official opening on a day in July yet to be fixed.

But before then a number of taster days have been arranged, not just to show off the Parson’s Walk complex but also to identify any teething problems before it is properly opened to the young Wigan public.

Around 200 people attended the evening for sponsors, media and their families.

The three tycoons whose money and ideas set the project going - Bill Ainscough, Martin Ainscough and Dave Whelan - all addressed the visitors.

Martin Ainscough said: “The Youth Zone is going to be a huge asset for Wigan. A large number of people have helped to make this all happen and I think you will agree that these are tremendous facilities that will give our young people so many new interests and outlets.”

Mr Whelan said: “This place is the best of its kind in Europe. I went to the old Wigan Boys’ Club as a young lad and it turned my life around.”

Development manager Simon Baker said: “Some people have said that the Youth Zone is ‘for keeping kids off the streets.’ But that’s a no-no term as far as we are concerned.

“It is about giving young people a proper place to meet, to discover hidden talents, introduce them to new pursuits and find an outlet for existing ones.”

The visitors were given free rein to explore the centre and the youngsters were able to try out the facilities, whether it be the 32ft high rock-climbing wall, the music and dance studios, gymnasium featuring high-tech equipment used by the world’s best athletes at the London Olympics, the giant sports hall or the state-of-the-art facilities.

Wigan Warriors captain Sean O’Loughlin and Wigan boxer Martin Murray were among celebrity sportsmen who also dropped in and joined in the activities.