Where it all began…..
Abbey Gymnastics was founded in January 2000 by Alison McMullan. In the beginning gymnasts trained at a recreational level and classes lasted 1 hour per week in the Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey. As the Club developed and gymnasts began to compete, the Club expanded and opened in Ulidia Integrated College in Carrickfergus. As demand for classes grew and the Leisure Centre and School were unable to facilitate this, the time had come to move to a permanent full time facility.
Over the years many sites had been visited but few were suitable for gymnastics. The Mallusk facility was agreed in May 2006 and a planning application submitted that month. The grand opening was planned for September 2006. After a long delay and much renovation including a new roof and assurances of planning approval, the gym opened on 15th January 2007. The club continued to grow with membership reaching 500 per week and employing 17 staff. Unfortunately in June 2010 the facility was closed by the planning service due to “unresolved issues” as the unit was Industrial and supposedly not suitable for Leisure use. With our petitions, the media and local MP’s on board we had hoped to overturn the decision but were unsuccessful.
Everything happens for a reason……
In the Summer of 2010 New Life City Centre in West Belfast offered their Church for our gymnasts to train Monday-Saturday so, with the help of lots of parents and Church members, equipment was set up on a Monday morning and stored away on a Saturday afternoon, allowing our competitive teams to train over the Summer period. It was here we were made aware of some empty units directly opposite the Church. The units were new and built for the development of community business. Perfect! Having viewed a smaller but suitable unit we decided this could be our new home. The new site and new legal status of the Club….. a “Community Interest Company” opened on 10th October 2010. The Committee who run the business park and local businesses have welcomed us to the area and within 3 years the Club has grown to maximum capacity.
Abbey Gymnastics CIC has continued to grow, attaining the British Gymnastics Gym Mark Accreditation, Sport NI Club Mark Accreditation, Belfast City Council Bronze, Silver and Gold Club Mark Awards. In addition, winning British Gymnastics Northern Ireland Club of the Year 2012 we have proven how driven and passionate our staff, committee and volunteers are to making Gymnastics a successful sport for all.
Having established great links with Belfast City Council who have opened up many opportunities for our Club and our Sport, having grown to maximum capacity and achieving the success as a club and as competitors, we now firmly believe that when one door closes another one opens!!
We still have big plans for our future. Having exceeded our 3 year development plan we are now keen to expand our facility to offer more opportunities to take part in our wonderful sport through classes, volunteering and job opportunities.