Celebrating Happy Returns in swimming, girlguiding and football in Leighton-Linslade as pandemic restrictions loosen
Featuring this week are Otters Swimming Club, Crusaders Swimming Club, 1st Bedfordshire Inclusive Girlguiding, and V24 Football
With society tentatively opening up in line with the Government’s roadmap out of the pandemic, the Leighton Buzzard Observer wants to be with our readers every step of the way.
We want to hear your positive stories about how you/your family, your business, your club/society or maybe your sports team is re-emerging from the restrictions which have made the past year so challenging. See details at the end of this article for more details on getting involved.
In a bumper round-up this week we feature Leighton Buzzard Otters Swimming Club, Linslade Crusaders Swimming Club, 1st Bedfordshire Inclusive Girlguiding, and V24 Football
> Leighton Buzzard Otters Swimming Club for the disabled made a happy return to swimming at Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre on April 17 after more than a year without a swimming session.
Our first session of the year was unfortunately not able to be the usual format starting in the small pool. The option available was a one-hour session in the main pool, so we devised a way to divide the pool into four sections to keep to the rule of six.
One section was a full lane of the pool to enable the more confident swimmers to do lengths. Then there was a section of the shallow end for beginners and next to that an intermediate swimmer section. Ross led a half hour lesson in these two sections. Lastly, we had a section for jumping, diving and swimming at the deep end of the pool.
Due to current restrictions we set up a booking system to avoid exceeding the maximum number for each section with a carry over priority to the following week for anyone unable to get a booking for the first week. Booking for the next Saturday session was filled within days.
Fantastic to be back was the feedback from our swimmers. Definitely happy to be back and looking forward to a “normal” session when we are able to do so. The social side of the club is also important.
Otters exists to encourage those of all ages with a disability to learn to swim, improve their ability and have fun in the water.
Thanks are due to two groups of people. Firstly to the volunteers who teach and help without whom we could not exist. Secondly to the duty staff at Tiddenfoot on our return who were very helpful and communicative.
> Linslade Crusaders Swimming Club were delighted and excited to be able to return to swimming last month. It’s really tough being a swimmer when you can’t get into a pool!
2020 began on a huge high for our club. Our swimmers had success at the Bedfordshire County Championships; we were embarking on a good run in the Chiltern, Junior and Arena league swimming competitions; we had 17 swimmers who had achieved regional qualification and 4 who had national qualifying times.
Then this all came to a stop with lockdown. Ever positive, our amazing swimmers made good use of their time. Once restrictions eased on exercise we counted our steps (55million of them) to ‘walk around the world’ raising £2,000 for CHUMS in the process.
We had various fun activity challenges and twice weekly land training via Zoom. In the second lockdown we added a weekly club Zoom quiz and weekly cook alongs via Zoom - the coaches had originally hoped these would be nutritional recipes, but it soon transpired that baking was our go to!
So when we returned to swimming again on April 12 it was an amazing feeling. We use 4 main pools: Tiddenfoot, Leon, Bletchley and Luton; and we are hugely grateful to the staff at these centres for making it possible for us to swim again. There are still challenges: we can’t compete yet, training looks different and our over 18s can’t return to training for a while.
That said, we’re delighted to be back in the water where we belong. We’re looking forward to racing again and are in the process of organising a number of activities including our annual swim week (which we missed last year). All of this is made by our fantastic group of swimmers, coaches and volunteers so “Go Crusaders”.
> 1st Bedfordshire Inclusive Girlguiding unit based in Leighton Buzzard (for girls with additional needs that offers the national programme in a multi-sensory way with additional adult support) celebrated the return to face to face guiding and its third birthday with an outdoor party for its members who come from across the county.
We had continued to meet on Zoom for those who could and kept in touch via post and a parents WhatsApp group.
The unit partied with chips from local Ocean Fish Bar, a party bag which included lovely sensory bath bombs from local business Mimic Gifts, lots of arts and crafts, singing, playing and dancing outside.
> V24 Football is a football coaching service for young players from the age of 4 to 12. They have a ‘football for all’ policy regardless of ability.
Small group sessions returned at Easter, before the long-awaited larger group coaching sessions every Sunday at Mentmore Park, Linslade began on April 18.
Some of the players play for clubs, others entirely rely on V24 for their playing experience. The academy is there to make them better players while having fun.
A spokesman said: “After a year of stop-start, it was exciting to be making a return for what hopefully is the final time.
“Just being on the pitch with the players after so long was a real buzz - not just for us, but for the players too. This pandemic has been so tough on the youth - so it was great to see them finally back doing what they love.
“For more of an idea of what we do, please check out v24footballacademy.com."
> Why not get involved in the Leighton Buzzard Observer’s Happy Returns feature? We’d be delighted to hear details of how businesses and the community are emerging from the restrictions of the pandemic.
t might be news of a business relaunching, your youth sports team resuming its matches, how your school is coping with the ongoing challenges, how your club or society is ditching Zoom and is looking to meet face-to-face again, a family reunion or celebration which can finally go ahead, or the many other examples of events and activities we all took for granted slowly returning.
This is a great chance to tell your story over the coming weeks and months ahead. Submit 100-300 words to this newspaper on how the pandemic has had an impact, how you’ve kept going and most importantly news of your ‘Happy Return’ when it’s deemed safe.
We’d also love to receive photos of those joyful reunions/reopenings. Please send all details to [email protected]