MORE than 100 invited guests helped celebrate the official opening of the Active Life Centre - and it is certainly a place that the people of Basingstoke can be proud of.

Borough mayor Councillor Paula Baker and Brian Stocks, the president of British Gymnastics, cut the ribbon to officially open the facility in Stephenson Road, Houndmills, last Sunday.

The centre is home to various groups, including Basingstoke Gymnastic Club, which moved there earlier this year from its former base in Kempshott.

Stocks, who was blown away by the impressive facility, said: "If this place does not produce a gymnast who is competing at the London Olympics in 2012, I will eat my hat."

Cllr Baker agreed. She said: "This centre is absolutely wonderful and I am sure it will bring a great deal of enjoyment to everyone who uses it."

One of the leading sponsors of the project was Sport England, and Lisa O'Keefe, acting regional director of Sport England South East, said: "Sport England South East is delighted to have invested £1.2million in the development of this innovative multi-activity environment."

She added: "The site will play a major role in regenerating the local area and providing new opportunities for the whole community in a range of sports."

After the opening ceremony, the guests were treated to a brilliant display by more than 100 members of Basingstoke Gymnastic Club, as well as dancers from On Your Toes Dance School and members of Shotokan Karate School.

Just before the gala finished, Basingstoke Gymnastic Club chairman Matthew Bolton thanked all the sponsors for their help in making sure the project came to fruition, and paid tribute to all the volunteers who have helped the club get to where it is today.

First published: Thursday, May 11, 2006