May 26 2013 Latest news:
by Josh Pettitt
Friday, March 22, 2013
Fitness enthusiasts are celebrating after a much-loved community gym in Hampstead was saved by the Royal Free Hospital.
Camden Council had threatened to sell The Armoury gym if a new lease could not be agreed.
But as the deadline for negotiations loomed, the Jubilee Hall Trust, which runs the gym, and the Royal Free Hospital Charity, struck a deal to keep it open.
The hospital charity has bought the freehold of the building from the town hall for a reported £1.8million and has agreed a fresh lease with the trust.
Retired barrister Daniel Robinson, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, uses the gym up to four times a week as it is the only way he can exercise safely.
The 76-year-old, who lives in Vane Close, Hampstead, said: “I was in the Royal Free Hospital with a broken hip. After the operation I was doing my exercises in the so-called gym there and saw this place across the road and joined.
“I’m very glad it has been saved because it’s very important for me to get regular exercise – especially at my age.
“I can’t walk any more, but I can move on the machines which is great. I do regular sessions which are very good and the staff are also brilliant.”
Fay Edwards, from East Heath Road, Hampstead, has been coming to the gym for 10 years and often brings along her 82-year-old mum for classes. The 65-year-old said: “I bring my mother along who is in her 80s and it’s a nice way for her to do things at her own pace. It’s nice that people of her age can join in.
“It’s £3 a go – you can’t even get a cup of coffee for that these days.
“I am really glad it has been saved, I was really hoping it would be and it’s so convenient if you live in the area.”
Phil Rumbelow, chief executive of the Jubilee Hall Trust, said: “We are delighted that the Royal Free Charity has stepped in to help us to secure the future of The Armoury as a community gym, which enables more than 2,000 Camden residents – many of them disadvantaged – to be more active.
“The uncertainty has made things very difficult and we are grateful for the outstanding support of our gym members, our staff and many other local people.
“We look forward to working in partnership with the charity, to continue to build a healthier community in Camden.”
Chris Burghes, chief executive of the Royal Free Charity, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to purchase The Armoury building and we have also agreed a new lease with the Jubilee Hall Trust.
“The gym has been giving a large number of people the chance to exercise in an affordable environment and has been doing excellent work with those who have suffered or are recovering from illness at the hospital.”
The agreement is set to be rubber stamped at a council cabinet meeting next month.