A NEW sports hall has been given the seal of approval by one of the North-East’s best known athletics stars.

Olympian and former world champion Steve Cram was at Framwellgate School Durham to open the £2.4 million centre yesterday.

He unveiled a plaque at the new facility alongside new headteacher Andy Byers, who took over the role this month.

More than 100 children from nearby primary schools Blue Coat and Framwellgate Moor took part in activities including climbing, trampolining, badminton and indoor athletics under the watchful eye of the former runner.

Framwellgate pupils who volunteered at the Prince Bishops Durham City Run, which is organised by Mr Cram’s company Events of the North, also got to meet him and have agreed to help out again at the event in the future.

Wendy Pattison, academy business director, said: “We’ve had an incredible day and it’s brought the whole school community together.

“It’s been a really nice celebratory event. It’s so wonderful for the kids - they love it.”

The sports centre is home to a four-court sports hall, large climbing wall, classrooms and fitness suite, and phase two of the project will see the addition of a 3G pitch before the end of the year.

Mr Byers said: “This is a fabulous building which will be used by our students and the local community.”

Ms Pattison added: “There’s no comparison with what we had before. The kids love it.”

Artist Ian Gill also unveiled a sculpture at the entrance of the new hall, which takes the form of a climber on a rockface and is called #what’snext?

It was created in collaboration with students from the school.

The old hall had problems with damp and was in poor condition.

The new scheme is part of a five-year schedule of work to try and update the facilities at the school, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.