After 30 years of campaigning to have new sports facilities, the residents of a north-east town will today enjoy their first look at an £8.3 million centre.
Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson officially opened Banchory Sports Village yesterday.
The multi-million-pound facility will open fully on Tuesday, but Mr Howatson began a four-day phased opening.
Campaigners have been working for decades to bring improved facilities to the Deeside town and raised £700,000 towards its construction.
Aberdeenshire Council paid for the new centre, aided by a Sportscotland grant and a donation from local firm North Banchory Company.
Sited north of Hill of Banchory School, the facilities include a six-lane swimming pool, training pool, a three-court sports hall, fitness suite, squash courts, changing rooms, reception and a cafe.
Mr Howatson said: “This town has long held an ambition for an increased sports and leisure offering.
“This is an excellent point to acknowledge the dedication, vision and determination of the community-minded volunteers and fundraisers who contributed financially to this building.
“I also have to commend the Live Life Aberdeenshire and Aberdeenshire Council officers and staff who have worked alongside the community to provide a facility which I think everyone can be proud of.
“This is a community asset which is available to everyone in Banchory and the surrounding area, as well as those visiting the town.
“It has cost more than £8m to realise, with a substantial contribution from the community towards that.”
Visiting the site yesterday, Squash Scotland and local players were the first to get the opportunity to sample the hi-tech squash facility, which can be transformed into a doubles court or an extra fitness hall at the touch of a button.
Scottish women’s number one Lisa Aitken played the inaugural game on the brand new surface.
Last night’s spectator event also allowed local volleyball and badminton clubs to try out the new hall and in the pool, swimmers from Drumoak and Durris demonstrated the quality of the new facilities.
Today and tomorrow, there will be judo, yoga, swimming and kindergym classes to give the public a taste of what will be on offer.
The current Banchory sports centre in Raemoir Road will be retained and used to offer more PE options for nearby schools.