Prime Minister Theresa May said Burnley Football Club should be very proud of its role in creating the Leisure Box facility which she visited this week.
Mrs May toured the £4.5m Leisure Box facility as part of a tour of Lancashire and was welcomed to the site by staff including Burnley FC in the Community’s chief executive Neil Hart, Burnley FC chairman Mike Garlick and chairman of Trustees for Burnley FC in the Community and Burnley FC director Brian Nelson.
Her visit included a tour of the 133,000 square foot centre, where she met with children from local schools including Nelson St. Philip’s CE Primary School, Casterton Primary Academy, Castercliff Primary Academy and Pendle Primary Academy who were taking part in various physical activities including climbing and football coaching.
After four years of collaborative work with a number of partners and the local authorities of Burnley and Pendle, Burnley FC’s official charity have successfully renovated the warehouse section of the former Brierfield Mill into a dynamic, multipurpose leisure space. With the aim to bring sport, health and wellbeing opportunities to all sections of the community, the facility has already welcomed thousands through its doors within the first few weeks of its operations.
Spanning three floors, the Leisure Box houses an indoor 4G pitch, a sports hall, the biggest ‘clip ‘n climb’ structure in East Lancashire, a kids and toddler play area, two full size cricket lanes, for-hire party rooms, a dance and fitness studio and a café.
Mrs May said: “I am very pleased to be here to open Leisure Box. This is a fantastic facility and it’s a great credit to Burnley Football Club in the Community for what they have done in working with others and supporting this.
“I don’t know of any other football club who has developed a facility like this and provided sporting opportunities for local children that they wouldn’t have elsewhere.
“It’s hugely important to have such a regeneration project in the heart of the community and Burnley Football Club can be proud in proving that football and sport can be a force for good.
“Many people support their local football club and seeing them put something back into the community as well is hugely important.”
Andrew Stephenson MP for Pendle, added: “This is a project very close to my heart, I was elected as local MP in 2010 and at this time the site of the Leisure Box was the largest redundant mill site in Lancashire. It was a site that only attracted vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Over the years, so many people have moved heaven and earth to try and transform it into the beating heart of the community.
“That really wasn;t possible without Burnley Football Club who have been instrumental, and by bringing the club here, to one of the most deprived communities, we are really opening the door for people.
“We are incredibly proud of what has been achieved in creating this legacy for the area and we are proud that the Prime Minister has found time in her incredibly busy schedule to come here to Burnley, to Pendle and to East Lancashire and to join in this celebration with us.
Neil Hart said: “We were honoured that the Prime Minister was able to join us to officially open the Leisure Box facility.
“The Leisure Box has been an extremely exciting project for us as an organisation and, while ambitious, we were confident the community here in Pendle and Burnley would embrace the centre. After four years of hard work, we are delighted to now be open to the public and to see that local people are already benefitting what we have on offer here. We’re proud that through the Leisure Box, our charity can support our community in this unique way.
“The opening ceremony was a fantastic opportunity to welcome the Prime Minister to East Lancashire, to not only showcase to her the facility but also the wonderful community spirit we have here in our corner of the county. It has been that desire to work together as a community that has made this project possible; a real partnership approach to make this real and I’m delighted that we could mark the opening with such a special visit.”
For their support of the Leisure Box project, Burnley FC in the Community would like to thank Richard Sutton and his family, the Sutton Pendle Charitable Trust, the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund administered by the Football Foundation, Sport England, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Pendle Borough Council, Liberata, Barnfield Construction, Tim Webber, the Burnley FC in the Community Board of Trustees, Brian Nelson, the Burnley FC Board of Directors, Mike Garlick and Dave Baldwin.
The Leisure Box aims to bring an affordable leisure offer to the entire community, with a number of Burnley FC in the Community projects including football sessions, disability sport and kids’ play offered free of charge.
For more information including opening times, please visit www.theleisurebox.org.