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Durham gym club wins £100,000 on TV talent show
A QUARTET of North-East gymnasts have bagged £100,000 for their club by becoming the first winners of a new TV talent show.
The four acro-gymnasts from Deerness Gymnastics Academy, based in Ushaw Moor, near Durham, wowed judges on ITV’s Let’s Get Gold, picking up the first cash prize in a show broadcast on Saturday night.
Competing as Acropolis, Matthew Evison, 19, and Richard Hurst, 21, both from Esh Winning, Dorian Walker, 21, from Durham City, and Jesse Heskett, 17, from Seaburn, Sunderland, showed off their skills to a judging panel of footballer Rio Ferdinand, cricketer Andrew Flintoff and singers Martine McCutcheon and Una Healy, with host Vernon Kay watching on.
Over recent years, the club has won a string of British, European and world titles, producing more than 60 Team GB athletes. However, Saturday’s cash jackpot completes a remarkable turnaround its recent fortunes.
Just last year, it was threatened with homelessness when Durham County Council announced plans to close its leisure centre base.
However, the club took over running the facility itself and now offers community classes, courses and meeting spaces.
Karl Wharton, the academy’s director of gymnastics, said: "As a charitable body and volunteer-led club, the prize fund is going to make such a big difference to our future."
Mr Walker, 21, said: "It was just incredible. I didn’t really believe it was happening. You were on stage and all of a sudden people were congratulating you.
"We were up against people doing other sports and the aim was to find the one with the most entertainment value, so it was a bit different to competing in a championship."
Jesse said: "When they said we’d won it was really a shock. We went into the competition a bit bare, not really knowing what it was all about. I was just astonished to think we’d won."
Team coach Stuart Thompson added: "It (the academy) costs about £7,000 a month to run and while we could have managed without the prize money it will give us a handy buffer while we build up membership."
For more information, visit deernessgymnastics.org.uk