At the end of 2023 our club received City of Manchester’s top sports award for an “Outstanding Contribution to Sport” to the City of Manchester over many years.

Below is an extract of the speech given before we received the award

The journey for the recipients of the outstanding contribution to sport in Manchester award started back in the early 70’s at Moston Brook High School where a PE teacher, Colin Leigh was developing a boys gymnastics team. The team quickly grew into an affiliated club at the school, and the school gym was taken over by gymnastics apparatus.

As the club continued to grow, the plan to develop a dedicated centre came to the fore and engaging potential stakeholders became a real need for the club.

In 1983 and thanks to Executive lead for Leisure and Libraries Cath Robinson, local councillor Colin Brierly and Sport officers including a young Eamonn O’Rourke the old Gorton Baths on Hyde Road was identified and completely transformed into a gymnastics centre, officially opened in 1984 by Sir Bobby Charlton. The centre enabled the club to continue to expand with an annual membership of over 300 gymnasts.

The club’s strength shone through in the early 1990’s with British Titles for Paul Bowler and Olympic games selection for Paul Bowler and Marvin Cambell. 1998 saw John Smethurst win a gold and a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Due to the growing success of the club by the late 90’s it was designated as a high-performance centre for Gymnastics. By 2002 Manchester was celebrating hosting the Commonwealth Games but the old Gorton baths was on its last legs, with support of Manchester City Council and Sport England the search was on for a larger venue to accommodate their growth.

The next venue turned out to be another former swimming pool- Neptune’s Kingdom on Garratt Way- just 800m from their old home. Thanks to funding from Sport England and Manchester City Council along with the club’s own fund-raising efforts meant work was able to start on the new site in early 2004 and completed by September that year.

The club has continued to grow ever since now serving 1500 members, offering over 70 classes per week, from pre-school to elite competition bringing regional/ national and international success, in the last 12 months alone the club has seen 60,000 visits by young people.

50 years on from the start of their journey the club are now looking forward and exploring opportunities to grow further and expand their offer, reach and success. They are looking for a new permanent home for gymnastics in the city, so watch this space… maybe this time it won’t be a former swimming pool!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner of Outstanding contribution to sport in Manchester 2023 is City of Manchester Institute of Gymnastics.