Keeping a community swimming pool afloat

A boy and girl in a pool, wearing swimming goggles

Ben Whittaker saw the perfect opportunity to help out when his local pool was faced with temporary closure.

Stamford Bridge Community Swimming Pool has been open for 30 years and is at the very heart of our community. Whether it’s the older generation coming together, or the celebration of a children’s birthday with a swim party, this place offers so much more to people than just a place to exercise.

The pool is particularly important to us as it was built following a tragic accident some years ago, when a local child drowned in the river which runs through the village. It has remained an important asset to the community and the local school ever since, ensuring that every child in Stamford Bridge can learn to swim in a safe environment.

“We don’t just serve Stamford Bridge. We serve lots of villages from all around, and even children from York come to learn to swim here.”

Our pool is run by a dedicated committee of local volunteers. As swimming pools are very expensive to run, they rely on donations and fundraising efforts to keep it operating. Although we do receive some income from hiring the pool out and charging for open swimming sessions, we are committed to keeping the pool free of charge for children’s swimming lessons, so there is always a need to fundraise for additional work or improvements we want to make.

My wife is a member of the pool committee, so when we were faced with the prospect of a huge bill to replace the ageing oil tank, I knew we had a big task on our hands. Without it, we would not be able to heat the water or changing rooms, so raising the money for its replacement was vital if we were going to keep the pool running on a daily basis.

“The Foundation gave us a focus, and winning was an additonal bonus”

The Foundation was just the motivation we needed. The whole process has given us a real boost, and the profile of the pool has been raised enormously in the local and wider areas. People who never even knew we existed now know that we are here, and that we are a resource for the whole community to use.

When I first applied for a Community Award, I knew the competition for the grants would be tough. But we did our utmost to spread the word, and so many people got behind us. With the help from the Foundation we can make sure that the oil tank can be made safe with no risk of leaking, which would be an absolute disaster. We feel really blessed to be one of the winners, and now the pool can remain open; a priceless gift for our community.