Heart-felt plea to save leisure centre

Jane O'Sullivan - campaigning against closure of BBHeath Leisure Centre.
Jane O'Sullivan - campaigning against closure of BBHeath Leisure Centre.

A HEART-FELT plea to save Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre - which is under threat of closure and demolition - has gone out from a mum-of-two who has battled her way back to health there after being stricken with cancer.

Music teacher Jane O’Sullivan, of Rushams Road, Horsham, underwent major surgery for ovarian cancer in 2008 and was later referred to the leisure centre by her doctor. Now she credits staff there with changing her life. “They are just wonderful,” she said this week.

Jane underwent five months of chemotherapy after surgery. “A reaction to the chemo left me with severe joint pain and I put on a stone in weight,” she said. “My GP referred me to the gym. Being bald, and not exactly at my best, I wanted a gym that was small and not too public. I therefore chose Broadbridge Heath rather than The Pavilions.

“I had never been to a gym before and was petrified, but the staff were just wonderful in nursing me back to health.” And, she added, “Quite simply they changed my life.”

Now, says Jane, 53, “due to their encouragement and support, I have attended three times a week for two and a half years. I have lost over a stone in weight and am fitter than I was before I took ill.”

Jane said that both her children - now at uni - had benefited from the leisure centre while growing up. Her son Patrick, 19, regularly trained and played football there and daughter Daisy, 21, attended weekly dance classes.

Jane is also a member of the amateur dramatic group HOADS - whose ‘home’ is at the leisure centre - and has appeared in 37 of their shows. “Our rehearsal rooms at BBH have enabled us to put on high quality productions for the local community and to involve hundreds of people in a society that caters for all ages,” she said.

“We have more young members than ever before, all of whom take part in as near a professional production as you can get from an amateur group.”

She said that, along with families, the leisure centre also attracted older and less able members of the community. “I am proud to be a member of somewhere with such a caring ethos. I appreciate that caring for the less able in our society is not always a money spinner, but the positive effects cannot be measured in money alone,” said Jane.

She said that she hoped Horsham District Council - which is due to vote on proposals to close and demolish the centre at a meeting on December 21 - would halt the plans.