‘People said we were mad’: Damaged centre becomes sports hub
A Dingo Beach couple was told they were mad when they decided to buy a dilapidated, cyclone-damaged fitness centre in the middle of Proserpine.
But Stephen Miller and June Gobbos-Miller could see past the rotted floorboards and ceiling dripping with mould.
Now they have turned the once derelict building into a sports hub and all in the name of giving the younger generation more activities to keep them occupied and away from screens.
The pair bought the Chapman St premises that previously housed Proserpine Squash and Fitness two years ago.
Mr Miller said the building had been empty for years but used to house a gym with a couple of squash courts.
After Cyclone Debbie tore through in 2017, it was not in a good state.
"It had a hole in the roof so everything was wet carpet in there, it was a bit of a mess and the mould was dripping off the roof," Mr Miller said.
"It had a big steel fence out the front so no one could see in.
"The floorboards were all rotted from the lack of maintenance.
"We purchased it and a lot of people said we were pretty mad because of the condition of it. I like a challenge."
Mr Miller spent an entire year, around his day job as a handyman, fixing up the building.
He renewed floorboards, ripped up wet carpet, repainted, put in a new grandstand, raised the height of barriers on the top floor, revamped bathrooms, had the whole place rewired by professionals so it was up to standard and more.
The outside of the building has also been painted a bright white and the garden is lush and green, creating an inviting scene for anyone heading in for a match.
Mr Miller did most of the work himself, but said it also helped having mates who could lend a hand and their expertise.
"I was working seven days a week," he said.
"I'd do three days working for myself so I could earn some money and then four days working here for free.
"It was good having June by my side as well, she kept me going.
"We put our hearts and souls into it and got it up and running again."
After all the hard work the building has been completely transformed and Proserpine Health N Fitness was opened about a year ago.
There are operational courts for people to play volleyball, squash and spikeball, and there's another court that is still a work in progress.
Mr Miller said part of the building was 52 years old, and the Proserpine Ladies Squash Club that previously used the facility had been running for 51 years.
The players had to travel to Airlie Beach while their local hub was out of action.
Now the squash players are back and on top of that, residents can book to use the courts at their leisure.
Mr Miller also runs volleyball classes for children as well as squash lessons.
Mr Miller said there were also plans in the works to hold drug and alcohol free underage discos.
As a naturopath, Ms Gobbos-Miller also uses the space to see clients.
"Proserpine had nothing for the kids to do so we needed this building to be up and running again," Mr Miller said.
"The youth of today are going to be running this place later on when we pass on.
"We need someone coming through who has the memories of growing up like we used to.
"A lot of people said I was mad but everyone is happy now that it's back up and running and it didn't get bulldozed."
To book the space or find out about upcoming matches and lessons, phone Proserpine Health N Fitness on 0423 587 999.