This weekend saw the official opening of the YMCA’s new Health & Wellbeing Centre in Forest Road, along with a change of name to YMCA East London.
Over the weekend hundreds of people from across the borough came along to try their hand at a range of different activities on offer from Zumba to martial arts to basketball to manicures and massages. On Saturday the 24th the Mayor of the LBWF, Cllr Saima Mahmud, and local football hero, Ledley King, came along to join in the celebrations and officially open the Centre and Sports Hall.
On introducing the Mayor, YMCA East London’s Chair, Christine Giscombe , said: ‘The Mayor is a councillor for the Hoe Street ward and as such she has been a strong supporter of our work for many years. She has a particular aim during her year as Mayor to promote the physical and emotional wellbeing of residents in the borough. It is therefore a pleasure that she has agreed to open our Centre today’
Talking about the renaming of the YMCA she said: ‘With effect from today we will be removing the Forest from our name and will in future be called YMCA East London. Our new name has been supported by a national brand campaign which enables us to adopt a visual identity that has been introduced across many of the YMCAs in England.’
Before cutting the ribbon, the Mayor of the LBWF praised YMCA East London’s work with young homeless people, and said how impressed she was by the new facilities and that, mayoral work permitting, she hoped to be able to attend some of the fitness classes.
On introducing Ledley King, Robin Smith, Interim CEO at YMCA East London, said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Ledley here today at the official opening and naming of our sports hall, the Percy Wilding Hall. Ledley’s roots are from East London, as he was born in Bow, and we feel his presence here provides a strong role model for the youth of East London.’
‘The hall is named in honour of a local man who was a life-long supporter of the YMCA and played badminton here since it opened in 1969 and continued well into his nineties. Sadly Percy passed away last year aged 100 years, before the hall was completed. However, we are pleased to have 3 generations of his family here today.’
Percy’s daughter, June Higginbottom, then recounted how much Percy had enjoyed coming along to the YMCA and that the family were delighted to have the hall named after him. Before formally opening the sports hall, Ledley King told the audience how football had played a major role in his life and that he was delighted to open the sports hall, which he hoped would inspire young people to take up sport.
The new Centre now includes a state of the art gym, 2 fitness studios, large sports hall with 4 badminton courts, crèche and youth space, community café, treatment room, and multi-
use rooms that provide activities, services and support that are available to the community and local groups for hire. For more information on membership and facilities go to www.ymcaeastlondon.org.uk