Gold medal-winning Paralympian Josef Craig reveals plaque to mark sports centre opening
A plaque to mark the day Hebburn's new sports centre first opened its doors to the public has finally been unveiled.
The then Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Richard Porthouse, and South Tyneside swimming Paralympian gold-medallist Josef Craig officially opened the Hebburn Central in Glen Street on June 15, 2015.
But it’s only now that a plaque marking that date has been put up in the venue to mark the occasion.
The installation marker was chased up by Coun Porthouse after fellow councillor Adam Ellison asked what had happened to the plaque.
Coun Porthouse said: “For some reason the plaque was created but was never put up.
“It was Coun Ellison who mentioned it, then when Josef announced his retirement from competitive swimming, it felt the right time to finally have the plaque put up.” He added: “It was great being able to catch up with Josef again. He is such a fantastic athlete and an inspiration to so many throughout the borough and a genuinely nice person.”
Hebburn Central was created as part of the town’s regeneration. The £13m million facility boasts a six-lane swimming pool, learner pool with bubble pools, sauna and steam room, fitness suite, sports hall, dance studio, soft play area, library, learning centre and cafe, as well as meeting rooms, a customer service centre and an outdoor games area.
Josef was catapulted him into the media spotlight following the 2012 Paralympic Games in London after he became the youngest of the competition to win gold in the 400m freestyle.
The 21-year-old from Jarrow who recently announced his retirement from competitive games, last week said: “It was great to spend a bit of time with Richie. He’s a great man and it was nice to finally have our picture taken with the plaque.
“It was great being able to talk about the day the centre opened, as it was one of the many great things that were happening for at that time.
“It is such a great facility and it’s a resource where people can go, not just to get fit, but to learn as there is a massive library inside.
“Being invited to open the centre was in recognition to my work as an athlete and as a member of the community and I will always be thankful for being given the opportunity to be part of something nice.
“In all honesty, I had completely forgot about the plaque, so it was nice to be invited along to see it now in place.”