On her final engagement of the day, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal attended the opening of Rathgael Gymnastics & Tumbling Club’s new facility at Balloo Industrial Estate, Bangor, County Down.
Upon arrival HRH was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of County Down, Mr David Lindsay. HRH then met with Chairman of Rathgael Gymnastics & Tumbling Club, Mr Andy McDowell; and former President, British Gymnastics, Mr Raymond Phillips.
Rathgael Gymnastics Club was formed in 1976 and since then membership numbers have continued to grow at a rapid rate. Membership is now over 1,000, with individuals travelling from across Counties Down and Antrim. Members are coached by a team of 25 self-employed coaches and 1 part-time manager. The club also has coaches working within eight local schools across the North Down and Ards Borough Council areas. It was the first club in Northern Ireland to achieve British Gymnastics GYMMARK accreditation, was awarded Club of the Year title for 2012 in recognition of the achievement associated with the opening of the new facility, and provided gymnasts for the official opening of the World Police & Fire Games.
Moving to the gym, HRH met members of the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics squad and their coaching staff; members of the tumbling discipline; members of the Acrobatics squad and their coaching staff; members of the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics squad and their coaching staff; some of the club’s youngest members in the FUNdamentals class; and members of the Freestyle gymnastics classes and their coaching staff. HRH also viewed several of these groups demonstrating their skills.
Later, HRH met a number of invited guests who have either funded, been directly involved with, or use the club’s facilities, and viewed a floor display by the Club’s Cheerleading squad.
Before departure, HRH unveiled a plaque opening the facility, and was presented with a small posy by 6 year old Rachel Yeaman.