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Whiteoak Gymnastics Club, Swanley, marks 40 years amid uncertainty over future home

A sports club has tumbled, rolled and jumped its way to celebrating 40 years in existence.

Swanley-based Whiteoak Gymnastics Club was launched by Carol Kent more than four decades ago.

Coaches and members of Whiteoak Gymnastics including Carol Kent, front, celebrate the 40th anniversary of the club. Picture: Andy Jones.
Coaches and members of Whiteoak Gymnastics including Carol Kent, front, celebrate the 40th anniversary of the club. Picture: Andy Jones.

In this time she has seen it grow to more than 150 regular members aged four and upwards - including boys and girls - with an oversubscribed waiting list.

Carol continues to hold the reins today and on Saturday held an open day to mark the occasion with gymnastic and trampolining displays.

Parents were invited as members received certificates outlining their gymnastic achievements.

The head coach said it was hard to believe she had been "going through these doors for the past 40 years".

She praised her support staff and parents who she said had helped contribute to a "really successful morning of celebrations".

Junior gymnasts from Whiteoak Gymnastics Club poses with their certificates. Picture: Andy Jones.
Junior gymnasts from Whiteoak Gymnastics Club poses with their certificates. Picture: Andy Jones.

"We get showered with cards and gifts at the end of each term," she added.

But the club's Saturday slot could be under threat following plans to redevelop the land on which Whiteoak Leisure Centre in Hilda May Avenue is based.

Sevenoaks council is looking to build a new leisure centre on the site of the existing one.

The proposals includes a new six-lane 25m main pool but the existing facilities, including the sports hall in which the club is housed would be reduced in size.

Sport England, the public body tasked with encouraging participation in sport, has objected to the plans.

The former gymnast said she has had a positive meeting with the council and hopes she will get reassurance it can continue its "legacy" in any new facility soon.

The sports hall where the club meet every Saturday is subject to plans for redevelopment. Picture: Andy Jones.
The sports hall where the club meet every Saturday is subject to plans for redevelopment. Picture: Andy Jones.

"It is a worrying time because I want to continue on the success of the club," she said.

"All of the children have such a lovely time and a lot of the older kids go on to teach."

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Read more: All the latest news from Sevenoaks


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