The owners of a gymnastic club have spoken about their sorrow at the closure of their premises in Hove.
The Brighton and Hove Gymnastic Club, which met at the old St Agnes Church, in Newtown Road, shut its doors at the end of last week after 35 years even though hundreds of children attended every week.
Dawn Richardson, one of the directors, said: “It’s so sad. The reason we’ve had to close is purely financial.”
The club had about 450 children a week on the register although before a sewage flood it had about 800 with 400 more on the waiting list. And it taught youngsters from local schools.
It was set up by Ann Martin and Daphne Hand, both now in their seventies, and employed 12 staff.
Dawn Richardson told staff last week: “After over 35 years of supporting our community, it is with the deepest regret that Brighton and Hove Gymnastic Club was forced to close its doors permanently at 7pm on Thursday 13 April.
“Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have to say a heartbreaking goodbye.
“There have been many mitigating circumstances leading to our closure – the very public previous building owners’ sale of the church, the council’s refusal to grant the rate relief offered in previous years, the demise in parking conditions outside the gym (and) other gymnastic clubs opening
“At great expense we changed to try to get everybody to standing order and for a while this worked.
“Slowly more cash and cheques started creeping back in, leading to increased bank charges.
“This situation also made it so much easier for a thief to steal over £3,000 since February.
“The coincidental corruption of our register has also had an impact. For me it is really important that you all understand that the thief’s actions have been a huge factor in the necessity to close the gym now.
“Ideally I would have liked to wait until the end of August, the natural period end (end of the term).
“On a personal level I have to tell you how incredibly proud I am of my Mum (Ann) and Daphne.
“They embarked on this journey some 45 years ago due to their daughters, who may I say proved to be a lot less talented at performing the sport than their mums, who proved to be amazing teachers.
“Mum and Daphne have given up so much of their lives for this sport, one they have cared for so passionately.
“As you know, you do not teach gymnastics to become rich, you do it because you love it and they have.
“In my opinion BHGC became such a successful club based on this passion.
“Along the way they have taught thousands and thousands of children. We were one of the first clubs to integrate mainstream and special needs children.
“They have enabled children to mature into adults, giving them a career and they have produced some of our best coaches and judges in the country.
“I am so sorry we find ourselves here today and I want to genuinely thank you for your years and years of loyal service and your wonderful contribution to what was Brighton and Hove Gymnastic Club.”