A LEISURE centre boss says it is 'onwards and upwards' after previous financial fears in lockdown.

Bernard McPeake, the director of Dalton Leisure Centre, said he was feeling 'optimistic' after the centre was 'hammered' financially by the national lockdown.

Run by a charity, the leisure centre was initially denied business support grants before later receiving a boost from the Government.

The centre reopened under the easing of lockdown on April 12, although gym classes have only been able to go ahead outside.

Mr McPeake said: "We're more optimistic now because we've had these grants.

"But it's still going to be an uphill struggle.

"The leisure industry has been hit hard by Covid.

"But we're more positive now than at the end of last year.

"Hopefully it's onwards and upwards from here."

Mr McPeake said customers had been eager to get back to the leisure centre following the long lay-off.

"There's been a lot of pent up energy from our customers," he said.

"It's been pretty busy ever since ever since we reopened and on the whole people are glad to be back."

He said outdoor exercise classes have proved popular.

In November, the director wrote an open letter urging Barrow Council to consider the community-run leisure centre for support grants.

Mr McPeake said the centre had been 'hammered' by the pandemic and missed out on business support grants provided to similar facilities due to its status as a charity.

"Most of the community I am sure think we are ticking over nicely, being supported by the council, unaware that we lost £163k of income in the first lockdown and now looking to top £200k by the end of the second," the letter said.

Eventually the leisure centre secured £26,000 in funding National Leisure Recovery Fund.

Restrictions on people gathering inside will ease from Monday.

All restrictions on social contact and social distancing are due to be eased from June 21.

"Hopefully now we can get back to normal," Mr McPeake said.

"We'll get more income when we can open more.

"In the last lockdown at the end of last year no-one knew what was going to happen but now there's a plan out of it."