OLYMPIC hopefuls Tom and George Hendrie swapped foils for trowels when they laid the first brick for the new Grange Centre at Midhurst.
Tom, aged 21, and his brother George, 18, who live in Midhurst, were chosen for the honour as they use the current Grange for training. They will be regular users of the new building as they carry on their training in the hope of representing Britain at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
They were presented with a commemorative silver engraved trowel, marked with their names and the date, after placing the first brick at the foot of the first wall.
Visitors were welcomed to the site by project manager for the Leadbitter Group Iain Macdonald who helped the two guests of honour with their ceremonial task.
Chichester District Council’s leisure portfolio holder Eileen Lintill told the gathering: “I am pleased to be able to say everything is on track for an opening of the new centre early in 2014.”
The steel structure of the new Grange was completed last week after contractors the Leadbitter Group brought two large cranes on site at the start of February to put up the 250-tonne steel frame.
The specially-marked brick laid on Tuesday by the brothers was the first of 96,000 bricks which will make up the walls of the new centre.
Contractors estimate each bricklayer working on the development will lay some 500 bricks a day on a straight wall as the project continues.
Among guests watching the ceremony were leader of Chichester District Council Heather Caird and members of the current Grange management committee.
Tom and George Hendrie are currently placed just outside the top ten British adult men’s foil rankings with George in 11th place and Tom in 13th.
They started the season on fighting form.
Both competed in the Essex Open in September which culminated in an all-Hendrie final with Tom pipping his brother to the post 15-13.
George and Tom finished second and first respectively in the prestigious Welsh Open earlier this season.