Fife Institute hosted an emotional event looking back at on its history, while also looking forward to an exciting future.
Not only has work officially begun on the replacement sports facility at FIPRE, but a look back at its 40 year history with an exhibition featuring photographs from the past was also on display.
The first sod for the replacement Fife Institute for Physical and Recreational Education (FIPRE) was cut by Councillor Brian Goodall, Chair of the Housing and Communities Committee.
The £21m project to build a brand new state-of-the-art sports and leisure centre for Glenrothes is expected to be completed in April 2013.
The exhibition, “Fife Institute through the decades”, was on display for invited guests, including representatives from Fife Sport and Leisure Trust, main contractor GRAHAM Construction, members of the local community and school children.
Speaking to the assembled audience at the exhibition, former director at the Institute Jim Penman, spoke of his mixed emotions.
He said: “Looking around here I’m delighted to see so many ex-colleagues.
“All of which I am happy to say have made an incredible contribution to the institute.
“This morning I confess to having mixed feelings after being here for over 40 years and I was here when it was first built.
“I had a fantastic experience when I was here, then I come back and see all the changes so I am torn, but there is the happy memories of the place and the excitement of what is being built.
“It doesn’t feel like 40 years ago when Princess Anne came and opened the Institute. It seems to have passed very quickly.
“That royal opening followed the opening of the swimming pool in 1970 so we had a little bit of experience at the time of doing openings.
“I still remember the trepidation we had when the institute opened, wondering what was going to happen.
“We had difficulties in the first weeks and months. It was a fairly isolated building, hard to get to.
“We got over that though and it has been a very popular centre with local people.”
Chair of the Glenrothes Area Committee, Fiona Grant, is pleased to see construction work begin on the site.
She said: “This is a very important day for Glenrothes, it’s great to finally get started.
“It will mean a new beginning to sports activity in the town and I am looking forward to having more competitions here, putting Glenrothes back on the map.
“I have fond memories as a child, learning to swim here.
“As I am sure many residents of Glenrothes did, I got various swimming badges in this pool.
“Today is about looking back on the 40 years history of the Institute but also looking forward to the new building, whatever it’s called, serving future generations of not just people in Glenrothes but the people of Fife as well.”
Councillor Kay Morrison spoke of her mixed emotions at the event.
She said: “This is an extremely important day for Glenrothes.
“Quite a lot of people who live here have been looking forward to this for a long time.
“In the 30 years I have lived here I can remember very well, taking my little girl here, learning to swim.
“That was just the beginning.
“It has changed quite a lot over the years, but it is still the same facility that we all became very fond of.
“There is a little bit of sadness in the air.
“But more happiness because it’s the beginning of something great for the town.”
Fife Council has invested £21.1 million into the new facility. The project was also awarded a grant of £1.5 m from sportscotland’s Sports Facilities Fund.
The new facility will offer a 25m x 17m eight-lane competition standard swimming pool with a gallery for 250 spectators, a 20m x 10m training pool with underwater movable floor, a 11m x 5m teaching and remedial pool and a modern wetside change area with adjoining health suite.
Other indoor facilities will include a large gym with 80 stations, strength and conditioning studio, purpose built aerobics studio, a regional standard 8 x badminton court sports hall and 2 squash courts. Outdoor facilities will include a full size synthetic turf pitch, three five-a-side and one seven-a-side 3G synthetic turf pitches, a tennis court and an upgrade of the existing athletics track.
The new facility is due to open in April 2013 and will be managed by the Fife Sports and Leisure Trust on behalf of Fife Council.
Watch our video report.