After seven years of hard work, the £400,000 Scout and community sports hall at Mahon Road has officially opened.
The purpose-built hall, which is home to 4th Portadown (St Mark’s) Scout Group, replaces the PE school which had stood on the site for 160 years, and had no running water or flushing toilets.
Approximately 40 visitors attended the opening ceremony including the Mayor of Craigavon, Councillor Colin McCusker, councillors Carla Lockhart and Darryn Causby, representatives from Sport NI, Scout headquarters, the project and construction teams as well as individuals and friends.
The Scouts have already moved into the building and the cutting of the ribbon was carried out by Rheuben Neill – Squirrels; Rebecca Kelly – Beavers; Ruby Giffin – Cubs; James Vennard – Scouts and Hannah Jones – Explorers.
The building consists of a large 28 x 18 metre sports hall, male and female toilets, changing rooms with disabled facilities, kitchen, meeting rooms and a car park.
The hall can accommodate most indoor sports as well as being a suitable venue for dance and other cultural events. A number of groups from County Armagh have already used the new facility for sports, training and educational events.
Anyone interested in hiring this facility can visit the Mahon Sports/Scout Hall facebook page for details.
Most of the money for the project, £245,000, came from Sport NI, with £140,000 provided by the Department of Education, and the Scout group also raising £10,000.
Sport NI chief executive Antoinette McKeown said, “Facilities such as this are vital in increasing the number of children and adults experiencing, enjoying and participating in sport and physical activity.”
Back in 2007, the group had raised £10,000 towards refurbishing the old hall but as it was no longer fit for purpose they felt demolition was the only option.
A building committee was formed to seek grant aid from funding bodies, and there followed rejections and setbacks as well as dozens of committee meetings, before the first grant was approved.
Paul Walker, group chairman and county commissioner for Scouting in Armagh, said the new hall had been delivered on budget an on time.
He added, “We are extremely grateful to all those who helped along the way, especially Sport NI, Department of Education and members of St Mark’s Churc and vestry.
“We also wish to thank project managers Giffin Hughes, design team McAdam Stewart, Lowry Construction, Dynamic Design, Dawson Ltd and all those involved in the completion of this new hall.”