BLACK Cats favourite Eric Gates dropped in to open a new gym which it’s hoped will boost the health of a community.
Eric, who played for Sunderland between 1985 and 1990, cut the ribbon at the Robin Todd Centre, in South Hetton, as it celebrated a £4,5000 refurbishment.
The improvements came to fruition after fund-raising by members of the gym, as well as a grant from County Durham Community Foundation.
Centre manager at Robin Todd, Sandra Hesslewood, said the opening of the facilities has been “absolutely brilliant”.
“This is the only gym in the area,” she said. “It’s quite an improvement and we are keeping the costs really low.
“It works out at about £1 a session.”
Among the new features at the gym is a sauna which helps ease muscle and back pain for users.
The grand opening saw musician Steven Stoker, of band Twister, give a solo performance.
“We have already had more members come through wanting to join us, so that’s a good sign,” added Sandra.
The centre is hoping that people of all ages will use the new facilities.
Youngsters in the South Hetton area use the site for badminton and dodgeball courses as well.
“We run Fit Kids for those aged nine to 12, which we think manages to keep them off the streets and doing something.”
Gym manager Michael Roche-Smith said: “Antisocial behaviour is a bit of problem, so the refurbishment will help towards reducing that.
“We want more people into the village, especially people who haven’t had the opportunities to use the gym before.
“Even now the numbers have picked up and more have been coming in.”
The management team at Robin Todd added that they would like to thank Steven Stoker and Fyzal Kirk for help with the opening of the gym.
Those looking to apply for grants from County Durham Community Foundation can call grants manager Brenda Dye on 378 6340.