Cricketer Mike Atherton opens Roundwood School’s new sport centre

A MULTI-MILLION pound sports centre opened at a Harpenden school last week after years of campaigning by parents, governors and students.

Roundwood Park School welcomed cricketer Mike Atherton last Wednesday to open the sports centre which includes a multi-gym and state-of-the-art dance studio.

The former England cricket captain and now distinguished journalist and broadcaster, cut the ribbon and joined students in the cricket nets for a spot of practice.

Headteacher Alan Henshall said he was looking forward to seeing how the school’s students, neighbours and residents of Harpenden would enjoy the new facility in the years to come.

He said: “The whole community is very excited about the new sports centre. With Mike Atherton kindly giving us his services free of charge for the official opening, it has been an occasion to savour.

“This has been a really good month for the school after our successful conversion to academy status on August 1 and the future for the school has never been brighter.”

He added that the project had been very much a team effort and thanked Herts County Councillor Bernard Lloyd and Kate Maguire, the senior planning officer. He praised the work of the governing body, the PTA, Sport England, and paid tribute to former headteacher Nick Daymond, who had done “so much of the work” in obtaining the necessary planning permission.

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The centre has a range of different uses and is equipped with brand-new cricket nets, football, netball, basketball and badminton facilities.

It has already been inundated with letting requests from local clubs and bookings for children’s birthday parties at weekends are very popular.

n The campaign to get a sports centre at the oversubscribed secondary school has met with its fair share of disappointment over the years.

Parents, governors and students were stunned in 2005 when Herts County Council decided not to support a plan for an all-weather sports pitch even though it had been given planning permission.

Harpenden County Councillor Bernard Lloyd complained about the handling of the issue and a review was ordered which resulted in the application being reconsidered.

The council admitted at the time that the decision was disappointing for the school and agreed that they would look into the possibility of obtaining funding for a new sports hall. Three years later, the county council voted to include the project in its capital budget and work began.

Prior to the centre, the school relied on a small gymnasium and students used the assembly hall and occasionally the dining hall. The then head Nick Daymond revealed that at times classrooms had been used when other facilities weren’t available.