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Britain's greatest Paralympian officially opens Great Yarmouth's new £26m sports centre

Gold-winning Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson has today officially opened Great Yarmouth's £26m new seafront sports centre.

Tanni Grey-Thompson officially opens the Marina Centre with Councillor Carl Smith and Mayor Councillor Graham Plant

The event at the Marina Centre linked up with Great Yarmouth and Waveney Pride parade, seeing international drag act Bimini Bon-Boulash riding a Joyland snail and carrying a specially commissioned torch to start the parade.

They handed it over to East Norfolk Sixth Form student Ednilson Dos Reis, whose artwork won a competition for local young people to design the torch.

In turn, he then passed the torch to Baroness Grey-Thompson, ahead of her officially opening the new sports centre alongside the Mayor of Great Yarmouth, Councillor Graham Plant.

Touring the centre, Baroness Grey-Thompson met community sports groups and local sporting heroes including Great Yarmouth Paralympian swimmer Jessica Jane Applegate MBE, fresh from winning a silver medal at this year's Commonwealth Games.

Jessica Jane Applegate and Tanni Grey-Thompson at the Marina Centre opening

Opening the centre, Baroness Grey-Thompson said: "It's wonderful to be here today and joined by so many people. In terms of the investment that has come into the Marina Centre, this is absolutely incredible, and it is not happening anywhere else in the whole of the UK. The commitment by the council, the councillors, and everyone else that has made this happened should be applauded.

"We know that place makes a difference and its also about aspiration. For the people that come and use this place it can open your eyes to what you can achieve. I was incredibly lucky as a child that people looked at me and not my impairment and gave me the opportunity to try things, whether or not it's the start of someone's sporting career.

"It is just brilliant to be joined by fellow Paralympian Jessica Jane Applegate. For Great Yarmouth to have someone like Jessica Jane to look at, what they have achieved, to have that aspiration is amazing, and people and place make a massive, massive difference.

"I'm really impressed in what you've done here, because this is incredibly special, and you should be very proud."

Across today and tomorrow, the public are able to try out a selection of different sports within the new facility, and explore what the centre has to offer.

There is also free live music and entertainment on both days on the beachfront performance area, to help keep everyone entertained.

Bimini Bon Boulash leading the Pride parade in a Freshly Greated snail and carrying the Marina Centre torch

Baroness Grey-Thompson's first Paralympics was Seoul in 1988, where she won a bronze medal in the 400m wheelchair racing, going on to win gold and silver medals across multiple classes at Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, and Athens.

Her total Paralympic Medal tally is 11 gold, four silvers and one bronze alongside 12 World Championship medals. Over her career she broke 30 world records, and is a six-time winner of the London Wheelchair Marathon.

The new Marina offers a six-lane swimming pool, learner pool and leisure water with flumes; along with a 120-station gym, four court sports hall, 10m indoor climbing zone, three studios, and community spaces.

Many of the facilities feature stunning panoramic views of Great Yarmouth beach, with a central atrium and café linking the promenade to the beach.

The centre has been funded by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, plus £2.5m secured from the Government's Getting Building Fund via New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, £1.6m from Sport England, and £500,000 from the Norfolk business rates pool.

Last modified on 06 September 2023

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