Parent launches £15,000 crowdfunding bid to restore school pool in village near Leighton Buzzard
Teachers at Overstone Combined School in Wing have been coaching children to swim at its 12-metre pool for over six decades.
But pupils have been unable to go for a dip since the summer in 2019 because the pool is in a state of disrepair and needs emergency work costing £15,000.
Now a parent on the PTA is taking on a crowdfunding bid to ensure it can be used again.
Shelley Thomas said: “Unfortunately the pandemic has affected our ability to carry out fundraisers and generate additional income for the school where needed. Financially, this leaves us short and supporting larger projects such as these essential repairs cannot take priority.
“Time has taken its toll on the pool itself and it urgently requires extensive repair to fix the lining. The result of this is that pupils are now having to be transported to other pools in the county in order to keep swimming lessons going and can no longer use their own pool. This service is also only available to a limited number of classes due to the number and age of the younger pupils and sadly, many children are now missing out on those essential first swimming lessons.
“The roof to the pool is also now in a dilapidated state and will need replacing in the near future. Those of you who have had the pleasure of learning to swim in the school pool may also remember the chilly walk outside between the changing rooms and the pool building, since moving the changing rooms this walk is now even longer. This clearly needs modernising and it’s something which we also hope to address in the future, if funding permits.”
The pool was originally dug out by parents, teachers and pupils in 1957, opened as an open-air pool in 1959, and in 1978 a roof was added which TV presenter Noel Edmonds unveiled.
Miss Thomas says that the pool means a lot to her having learnt to swim in it when she was a child, as did her brother, and it’s because of this that at the age of 9 he saved the life of their then two-year-old sister when she was drowning.
Shelley said: “As teachers and parents, we understand that swimming is a critical life skill that all children need to learn at the earliest possible age, for safety, sport and self-confidence, and continuing to provide access to the school’s own pool is key to this. We do not want to see it close.
“Please, please give anything you can to this cause - however big or small. We recognise that during lockdown a lot of people are struggling and funds are short, but we cannot let this cause slip us by. I will personally start off the donations by giving £100 that I would normally be spending on commuting to work.”
The school is looking to apply for grants and host its own fundraising events once Covid-19 restrictions ease. To donate, visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/keep-our-children-swimming-at-overstone-school