A RUGBY star opened a £2m school sports hall at the weekend.

The hall at Wolsingham School and Community College was opened on Saturday by 19-year-old England rugby international Mathew Tait, who grew up in the village, and triple Paralympic gold medallist Stephen Miller, from Ashington.

The school will share its Lottery-funded hall with people in Weardale who lost their last sports centre when council-run facilities at Eastgate shut down five years ago.

Until now, indoor PE lessons were taught in a 1950s gym that was so small the under-18s basketball team had to play all its matches away when it won the national championship last year.

The new hall will be a base for existing football, cricket, roller hockey and other clubs.

Almost £140,000 has been allocated by the Learning and Skills Council from the European Social Fund to pay for activities and courses, including coaching qualifications.

There will be training for lifeguards for Wolsingham Community Pool, which was reopened in May by a group of volunteers and now is so successful that more than 100 children and adults are having swimming lessons.

The event was also a celebration of the school's status as a performing arts college, with Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant as patron.

Headteacher Andrea Crawshaw: "We think this is a new and exciting beginning.

"It will provide a platform for success for our students and the wider community now and in the future."