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Mildenhall College Academy completes move into Mildenhall Hub




After years of planning, the Mildenhall College Academy has made a historic move into the £39million Mildenhall Hub.

Today, the school officially opened to students and made its move down the road from its previous site in Bury Road, Mildenhall.

The state-of-the-art school building, funded by the Academy Transformation Trust and the Education Funding Agency, can hold a maximum of 1350 pupils and will see a range of high quality facilities and services on offer to students.

Students Kyla Bliss and Ethan Bright (Year 10) with Nicola Hood, Mildenhall College Academy principal. Picture: Mildenhall College Academy.
Students Kyla Bliss and Ethan Bright (Year 10) with Nicola Hood, Mildenhall College Academy principal. Picture: Mildenhall College Academy.

Nicola Hood, principal, said: "We are delighted and very excited to be welcoming students to our new state-of-the-art building.

"The building and resources within it now match the excellent quality of our staff and students and will allow for academic excellence for every learner allowing them to be the best they can be and to help them be highly effective citizens making positive contributions to their community."

The opening of the new building today marks the end of years of planning and hard work.

The Mildenhall Hub entrance under construction in March this year.
The Mildenhall Hub entrance under construction in March this year.

Susan Byles, regional education director for the Academy Transformation Trust and executive principal of Mildenhall College Academy, said the building was a flagship for the trust.

She said: "10 years ago, when I began campaigning for a new build to replace the ageing building that housed the school, I never imagined the scale of the project that has become the Mildenhall Hub.

"It was difficult in the early stages to imagine from the plans on paper what the academy would look like when physically built and it has been fascinating to watch the building as it has been constructed over the past two years.

"In the past two weeks the academy has moved into the new build and the staff have worked incredibly hard to ensure that everything is ready for the return of the students.

The Mildenhall Hub welcomed its first customers earlier this month with the launch of a library. Cllr Jo Rayner, West Suffolk Council cabinet member for leisure, culture and community hubs with Denise Gray, library manager, Kate Ashton, executive library manager, and Jack Norman, property manager for Suffolk Libraries.
The Mildenhall Hub welcomed its first customers earlier this month with the launch of a library. Cllr Jo Rayner, West Suffolk Council cabinet member for leisure, culture and community hubs with Denise Gray, library manager, Kate Ashton, executive library manager, and Jack Norman, property manager for Suffolk Libraries.

"The new academy is spectacular, the students are returning to a state-of-the-art building, surrounded by other fantastic resources for them and their families to use in the hub.

"The new Mildenhall College Academy is a flagship academy for our trust and as part of the hub, will be exceptionally well placed to continue its outstanding work.”

The school opening comes on the same day Abbeycroft Leisure, also based at the hub, opened its doors.

The new leisure facilities include a 25m six-lane pool. Picture: Mark Westley.
The new leisure facilities include a 25m six-lane pool. Picture: Mark Westley.

Abbeycroft Leisure, a not-for-profit social enterprise, will operate the leisure facilities on behalf of West Suffolk Council.

Included in the new facilities are a 25m six-lane pool, teaching pool with adjustable floor, a 100-station gym (currently with reduced capacity for social distancing to 45-stations), two fitness studios, four-court sportshall and an outdoor 3G pitch.

The new gym room. Picture: Mark Westley.
The new gym room. Picture: Mark Westley.

Paula Drew, of Lakenheath and a member of Abbeycroft for over 10 years, attended the test events last week when she said: “It’s all looking really, really lovely and I can’t wait for all the classes and sessions to start next week.

"The extra parking is great and having all those services together in one place is such a good idea."

The Mildenhall Sharks were testing the new pools and Ben Child, club secretary, said: “This is going to give the club such a boost after a period of doom and gloom.

One of the leisure centre's new fitness rooms. Picture: Mark Westley.
One of the leisure centre's new fitness rooms. Picture: Mark Westley.

"The pandemic had threatened our future but I’m certain the new pool will see the return of past members and a good number of new ones.

"The old pool was where the Sharks were born, but certainly here we can thrive. Exciting times ahead!”

Warren Smyth, chief executive at Abbeycroft, said: "We’re extremely pleased to be fully opening and we’re looking forward to welcoming existing customers as well as new to these amazing new facilities at The Hub.

“We see first hand how activity and exercise can not only improve lives but can also change lives and being co-located with our health partners will offer local people more opportunities to lead healthier, happier lifestyles.

Cllr Jo Rayner, West Suffolk Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Community Hubs, said: “This is an investment by West Suffolk Council and partners including Sport England in the future health and wellbeing of residents in and around the Mildenhall area and it is fantastic to see these long-awaited new leisure facilities opening.

"We have already heard great feedback from people who took part in some of our test events.

"I know lots of people in and around Mildenhall are particularly excited by the bigger pools and the other great leisure facilities that we have to offer and we look forward to welcoming you to them from Monday.”

Charles Johnston, executive director of Property at Sport England, said: "The Mildenhall Hub sets a new standard for activity being at the heart of community.

"With £2m of national lottery investment, the leisure facilities will help local people to move more and boost recovery from the pandemic.

"The co-location of the leisure centre with a school, library and other services also supports the building of inter-generational relationships and connections in the community.

"The Mildenhall Hub has the power to change lives and we look forward to seeing the impact that it has.”

Mildenhall Library already opened at the start of the month.

Once fully open, the hub will also offer a health centre, children's centre and job centre as well as office space for the NHS, police, Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Council.

Read more: All the latest news from Bury St Edmunds

Read more: All the latest news from Mildenhall

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