HRH The Princess Royal, on the third engagement of the day, attended the opening of the Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex, Bangor, Co Down.
The new Complex opened to the public on 23rd March 2013 and had 10,000 visitors on its first weekend. The capital cost was £38m, making it the largest investment in indoor sports facility ever in Northern Ireland.
Upon arrival HRH was greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant of Co Down, Mr David Lindsay, and the Mayor of North Down Borough Council, Mr Andrew Muir. Moving inside to the Reception area and accompanied throughout by Mr David Warden, Director of Leisure & Community Services, North Down Borough Council, HRH met Councillor Jennifer Gilmore, Deputy Mayor, North Down Borough Council, Councillor Adam Harbinson, Chair, Leisure and Community Services Committee, Mr Brian Henning, Chairman Sport Northern Ireland, Ms Antoinette McKeown, Chief Executive, Sport Northern Ireland, Mr Brian Taylor, Chairman, Northern Community Leisure Trust and Mr Gordon Pennock, Contract Manager, Northern Community Leisure Trust.
On a tour of the Leisure Complex and moving to the Pool Hall Grandstand, HRH was given a brief overview of the facilities and viewed a number of activities, including Water Polo played by the junior Members of Bangor Barracudas Club; Bangor Swimming Club and Ulster Swim Squad; Swimming lessons and aquacise; and North Down Diving Academy. At the poolside HRH met a number of coaches and teachers overseeing the various pool activities, and met Ms Bethany Firth, Paralympic Gold Medallist.
At the Viewing Gallery HRH watched children from two local schools enjoying the Leisure Pool. At the Performance Development Centre HRH met a number of elite performers and Sports Institute Staff.
Later in the Fitness Suite HRH met a number of users and staff, before moving to the Sport’s Hall to view the following activities: Dry diving and trampolining; Wheelchair basketball; and Wildcats. HRH went on to meet Joan Dunlop, Diving/Trampolining Coach, Marty Burch, Martial Arts Coach and Aubrey Bingham, Basketball Coach.
On the dais the Mayor said a few words of welcome, before invited HRH to unveil a plaque to commemorate the opening of the Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex.
Prior to departure and farewells HRH was presented with a posy by Lois Gwilliam aged 7 from the Wildcats group.