Shock as gym shuts suddenly amid charity trust collapse
- Credit: Liz Coates
A gym has shut suddenly after the charitable trust behind it ceased trading.
Sentinel Leisure Trust has closed its sites around Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft after a "substantial period" of difficulties.
The future of the charity was cast in doubt on Friday, with chief executive Claire Henwood confirming sites were closed.
She said: "Due to circumstances beyond our control our sites will be closed until further notice, we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused."
Over the weekend, gates were locked and signs installed at the trust's sites including Fitness 2000 in Southtown Road which was sold by founder Eva Howkins to Sentinel in March 2020.
The signs state: "As you are aware trading has been difficult for a substantial period and unfortunately the directors have made the difficult decision to cease trading.
"Please note that Smith and Williamson LLP have been appointed with a view to placing the company into creditors voluntary liquidation and creditors will be notified shortly.
"We would like to thank you for your support over the years."
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Ms Howkins said the business had been sold on the day lockdown was announced in March 2020, most of the staff transferring over to Sentinel, making for a seamless move.
She started the business in 1995 in Cobholm moving to Southtown Road in 2007.
"I am very sad to see the doors closed and it is very upsetting for the staff, may of whom have been there for a long time," she said.
"Everyone is just holding out for the chance that it may well reopen."
People on social media have shared their shock saying they were "gutted" for staff.
Fitness 2000 was run under The Complete Gym brand, as was the leisure club at Caldecott Hall in Fritton.
At Caldecott a spokesman said the gym was closed and the pool open for water babies only. He stressed the golf was unaffected and operational.
In 2015 Sentinel took the helm at Great Yarmouth's Marina Centre and Bradwell's Phoenix Pool under an "emergency" 12 month contract ending nine years under the Great Yarmouth Sport and Leisure Trust (GYSLT) after the collapse of a merger bid.
However, in October last year the trust sent out an email to members saying it would no longer be operating the Phoenix and would also not be involved in the new Marina Centre taking shape on the Golden Mile.
Both sites are owned by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.
Sentinel Leisure Trust was formed in 2011 to manage the leisure and culture portfolio operated by Waveney District Council including the revamped Waterlane Leisure Centre in Lowestoft, now run by Everyone Active.