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Countless memories forged at our mecca for fun and games

Published date: 19 February 2014 |
Published by: Lisa Davies
Read more articles by Lisa Davies


 

I GREW up with Plas Madoc. It was a big part of my life. But while my son, who is seven, will remember it, my little daughter won’t.

I think that’s quite sad.

The centre has been an important part of so many lives, not just mine.

A friend’ son just battled and beat leukaemia and he plays football there.

Another friend takes her baby to splash and rhyme time.

Where will they go now?

I wanted to share these stories with Leader readers so I’d have something to look back on – because the council has now voted to close it.

Unless an unlikely community takeover materialises, soon it won’t be there any more.

My earliest memories were of swimming there with my family. It was where my sister and I learned to swim.

I loved the waves and the slides, both the old one that went into the main pool and the new one that replaced it.

I loved putting our clothes in the baskets and getting an elastic band for our wrist or ankle.

I loved going upstairs to the cafe to see the fish in the aquarium.

My dad told me that when he took me once as a toddler, he put me on the side for me to jump in.

I turned on my heels and ran into the women’s changing room and he had to ask a lady to go in there after me (there was no mixed changing in 1980).

As she got out the pool to follow me, she slipped and fell over.

As the staff were attending to her I emerged for the changing rooms as if nothing had happened!

Or another time when I walked out the changing rooms and jumped straight into the pool and a new lifeguard panicked and blew his whistle until one of the staff regulars said: “It’s okay, it’s just Lisa” as I bobbed to the surface.

We knew all the staff that worked there.

We walked along the balcony and looked down at all the activities in the main hall and we would watch people playing on the squash courts.

When I got older, I used to go the roller discos in the school holidays and had a great time.

On my birthday, the staff played Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday for me.

I remember my mum and dad bringing us back a giant pen with Cannon and Ball on it after they performed there.

My mum also cherishes a photo of her with Liverpool footballer Emlyn Hughes, who she met at Plas Madoc.

She used to take me when she went to her popmobility class in the big hall and I used to sit on the side and watch a hall full of ladies all following the moves of the woman on the stage.

My dad used to take my sister and I with him when he played five-a-side with his friends.

Afterwards, he and his friends would have a reward pint in the cafe – remember, it was the 80s.

When I started secondary school my friends and I would going swimming on our own.

We used to get told off for trying to form a train going down the slide and my sister chipped her tooth on the bottom of the pool when she dived in and hit the bottom.

Not long after, the ‘No Diving’ signs went up!

I was also a munchkin in a theatre production of The Wizard of Oz on the stage in the main hall.

It was such a buzz.

When I was a teenager, me, my sister and one of my best friends used to hang around the leisure centre and made friends with others kids from different schools.

My friend went on to work at the leisure centre and still teaches splash aerobics there, even dressing as a Christmas tree for her Christmas class in 2013.

In the early 90s, who could forget the start of the Megadance?

My friends and I used to put piles of hairspray into our perms, do our make up and go to the disco to watch all the up-and-coming bands perform on stage.

All of us hoped the latest boyband was on the look-out for girlfriends!

When I went to college we used to go there every Wednesday afternoon as part of PSE and I used to go to the gym and sauna and steam room.

When my sister-in-law became pregnant with my nephew, we used to go the splash aerobics class there so she could stay in shape.

I used to take my little nephew swimming at the weekend and we loved it.

I took my baby son there too.

When my husband and I separated for a short period, it was the place he spent every Saturday morning with my son.

They bonded as he let our son be more daring in the water than I would, and this helped to develop his swimming skills and confidence.

I joined them again when I was pregnant with my daughter and we have continued to go almost every weekend since.

My children’s favourite things are the same as mine: they love the slide and the waves and walking in and out the pool, getting used to the water.

They also know the staff there. My daughter was only a week old the first time we took her and I sat in the spectators area with her while her dad and brother had their weekly swim.

She now gets an audience as she jumps into the pool was no fear – just like her mum used to all those years ago.

My niece is now doing her lifesaver award there.

Sadly, if the closure goes ahead as planned, my daughter will be unable to and she will never remember her time at Plas Madoc Leisure Centre as she is too young.

Men and women in suits who sit in offices have decided that the centre is past its useful life and therefore must be closed, regardless of how much it means to me and others in the local community.

What is more heartbreaking is what they are taking away from our children.

No other place in the area has been so intertwined throughout all the stages of my life.

I am devastated that it is being taken away, but I feel grateful that I have these memories.

Some of our last recollections will be of us protesting together as a family, signing petitions and completing questionnaires.

My son felt so strongly that he asked to complete one. In the comments box, he put ‘Please, please, please, please don’t close Plas Madoc.’

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Thank you, Plas Madoc.

l Have you got a fond memory of Plas Madoc? Email your stories to rhian.waller@nwn.co.uk

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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