Over a thousand people including Olympians and members of the council came together to celebrate the official opening of a brand-new new leisure venue.

Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre in Hillhouse, Waltham Abbey, was opened by Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies MBE and Epping Forest District Council’s Chairman, Cllr Richard Bassett.

Over 2,000 residents have already signed up to use the multi-million facility, with several youngsters attending to enjoy a free aquatic sports day on Saturday, June 15.

Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Councillor Bassett, said, “I was delighted to officially open our new leisure centre, after much hard work it’s wonderful to see it completed and our residents enjoying the excellent facilities on offer.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in the creation of this marvellous centre and believe it’s a great asset to the local area.

“Along with our partners we have created a modern facility where members of the local community can come together to get active and stay healthy.”

Representatives from Places Leisure, Pellikaan Construction, Pozzoni and Epping Forest MP Dame Eleanor Laing joined together for a plaque unveiling within the centre.

Olympic silver medallist, Sharron Davies. said, “It’s fantastic to see such a modern and welcoming leisure facility which gives the local community the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and learn new skills. It’s a place for everybody.”

Attendees also received expert training advice from Olympic swimmer Grant Turner who competed in the London 2012 games and Team GB synchronised swimmer Genevieve Randall.

Kids aged seven to 14 years got to experience a range of water sports, such as mini water polo, synchronised swimming and fast swimming.

The event was offered as part of a collaboration between leading swimming brand Zoggs campaign and Total Swimming set up by Olympian Steve Parry

The community facility, which first opened to the public in November 2018, has already proved popular, welcoming over 150,000 visitors to date.

Gym memberships more than doubled within its first eight weeks of opening.

Chris McCarthy, general manager for Places Leisure said, “It’s been fantastic to see so many of our local residents and community groups enjoying everything that the new centre has offer. Fitness, sport and health.

“Whatever place you’re into we have something for you.

“You can learn a new skill, get back into a sport, improve your fitness or continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle and the social benefits of sport and activity are terrific too.”