Leisure and fitness operator ceases trading as sites close

Nirvana Health and Fitness in Lowestoft, which has been closed following Sentinel Leisure Trust's decision to cease trading.

Nirvana Health and Fitness in Lowestoft, which has been closed following Sentinel Leisure Trust's decision to cease trading. - Credit: Mick Howes

A charity providing key leisure and fitness facilities has ceased trading.

Sentinel Leisure Trust has closed its sites around Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth 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  in convenience this may have caused."

Over the weekend, gates were locked and signs installed at the trust's sites around Lowestoft, including Barnards Meadow.

A sign at Sentinel Leisure Trust's facilities in Lowestoft.

A sign at Sentinel Leisure Trust's facilities in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

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.

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"We would like to thank you for your support over the years."

READ MORE: Which sites do Sentinel Leisure Trust operate?

Lowestoft Town Football Club Chairman Gary Keyzor.

Lowestoft Town Football Club Chairman Gary Keyzor. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft Town Football Club chairman Gary Keyzor issued a statement on Monday morning, saying the news would "significantly impact" the club on an operational and financial level.

He added the club's Centre of Excellence programme would transfer from Barnards Soccer Centre to Crown Meadow "for as long as required".

Mr Keyzor said: "We have been made aware that Sentinel Leisure have ceased trading and closed their facilities with immediate effect.

"As we understand it, their company has significant financial difficulties are engaging specialists to support them.

"We sympathise with all staff who will be impacted by the closures and of course with the wider community who will miss the access to the facilities in the short term.

"The news will unfortunately significantly impact LTFC on an operational and financial level, that we must now navigate to ensure the smooth operation of all our club activities.

"Firstly, we are committed to working with East Coast College to ensure the Football Education programme will continue to operate with minimal changes to ensure the academic progress of all the students will not be affected.

"The staff will continue to deliver the programme and we will refine more details alongside in the coming weeks.

Barnards Meadow Soccer Centre in Lowestoft.

Barnards Meadow Soccer Centre in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

"Secondly, our Centre of Excellence programme has been operated alongside Sentinel and run from Barnards Soccer Centre.

"We will transfer to Crown Meadow for as long as required to ensure the programme will be uninterrupted so our players can continue their development under the banner of Lowestoft Town FC.

"We won’t be making any further comment until more information has been received and we have been able to formulate a plan for the benefit of Lowestoft Town FC and our community."

Waveney FC have also been impacted by the closure of key facilities.

In a statement on Twitter, they said: "Following the recent news that Sentinel has ceased trading, we wanted to reassure all of our players and their families that we are working hard to find a solution to ensure that as far as possible it is business as usual for Waveney FC."

East Coast College has also been working with Sentinel Leisure Trust for over three years to provide training to students through the Football Industry College, both in Lowestoft and Norwich.

Stuart Rimmer, principal and CEO of East Coast College, reassured students following Sentinel's announcement.

The college has 19 students with the Football Industry College in Lowestoft and a further 11 in Norwich.

Stuart Rimmer, chief executive and principal of East Coast College.

East Coast College CEO and principal Stuart Rimmer. - Credit: East Coast College

Mr Rimmer said: "It is sad news that Sentinel has gone into liquidation.

"Students should not be concerned, however. They are East Coast College students and we will make urgent arrangements to ensure learning will continue, have minimal disruption and students can successfully complete their studies.

"We have contacted all students directly.

"If any students have further questions, they should contact the college's student services team.

"The college is already exploring an alternative exciting football provision to continue this academy."