Residents of a north-east town will get their first opportunity to use new multi-million-pound sports facilities today, after nearly 30 years of campaigning to have them built.
Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson officially opened Banchory Sports Village yesterday.
The £8.5million centre will open fully on Tuesday, but Mr Howatson began a four-day phased opening yesterday afternoon.
Campaigners have been working for decades to bring improved facilities to the Deeside town and raised £700,000 towards its construction.
Aberdeenshire Council paid for the new centre, aided by a Sportscotland grant and a donation from local firm North Banchory Company.
North of Hill of Banchory School, the facilities include a six-lane swimming pool, a training pool, a three-court sports hall, fitness suite, squash courts, changing rooms, reception and a cafe.
Opening the venue, Mr Howatson said: “This town has long held an ambition for an increased sports and leisure offering and this is an excellent point to acknowledge the dedication, vision and determination of the community-minded volunteers and fundraisers who contributed financially to this building.
“I also have to commend the Live Life Aberdeenshire and Aberdeenshire Council officers and staff who have worked alongside the community to provide a facility which I think everyone can be proud of.
“This is a community asset which is available to everyone in Banchory and the surrounding area, as well as those visiting the town.
“It has cost more than £8million to realise, with a substantial contribution from the community towards that.”
Visiting Squash Scotland and local players were the first to get the opportunity to sample the high-tech squash facility, which can be transformed into a doubles court or an extra fitness hall at the touch of a button.
Scottish women’s number 1 Lisa Aitken played the inaugural game on the brand new surface.
Last night’s spectator event also allowed local volleyball and badminton clubs to try out the new hall and in the pool, swimmers from Drumoak and Durris demonstrated the quality of the new facilities.
Today and tomorrow, there will be judo, yoga, swimming and kindergym classes to give the public a taste of what will be on offer.
The current Banchory sports centre in Raemoir Road will be retained and used to offer more PE options for nearby schools.