Fundraising drive aims to make a big splash

Published on: 24 Nov 2016

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PARENTS at a Mangotsfield school are preparing to launch a huge fundraising appeal to save their aged swimming pool.

The pool at Barley Close Primary, built more than 30 years ago, is housed in a building made of concrete breeze blocks and corrugated iron which means it's too cold to use during the autumn and winter.

There are no toilets or showers and instead of proper changing facilities, there are just two screens for pupils to get changed behind.

The Friends of Barley Close say they are fed up with funding ad-hoc repairs to keep it going and now want to raise money to ensure it gets repaired properly.

Friends' secretary Anna Selway, who has two children at the school, said the building looks more like a cowshed than a modern facility.

Anna, who lives in Downend, said: "We still use the pool but we've had to re-line and re-clad it every few years. The building is not insulated at all. From the outside it looks like a cowshed. The corrugated roof has got quite a few holes in it now so we've got leaks.  Because there's no heating in the building or insulation we can only use it from April to October when the weather is warmer."

The pool, which is next to the playground, is also open during school holidays for pupils and the community, and can be hired for swimming lessons and parties.

The Friends also host 'Summer Splash' events and charge £3 per child for a two-hour session.

Anna said: "It's really well used when it's open. It's brilliant because it's not very deep which means every child from reception age is able to touch the bottom.

"Anyone from the community can come along as along as there is room in the pool as we can only have so many use it at a time. Members of the community can also pay to have swimming lessons for their child there."

Anna said every pupil swims once a week in the seven months the pool is open.

"The pool is adequate but it really needs modernising and some proper TLC especially to sort the roof out. We want to be able to use it throughout the year which will benefit the community as well as pupils.

"Our plans at the moment are to get some building contractors in to tell us what needs to be done and give us a quote. It would be nice to have a long-term solution so we're not having to pay out to refurbish it every few years."

The Friends hold Christmas and summer fairs, discos and cake sales to pay for repairs to the pool as well as to fund other equipment at the school.

"Once we know what we need to raise we can launch a separate fundraising project which will run alongside our usual fundraising and hopefully the community and local businesses will support us," said Anna.

The school will also investigate whether it can get a grant from Sport England to help pay for the redevelopment plans.

Headteacher Jo Williams said: "Swimming is an important life skill for children to have.

"As part of the national curriculum children should be water competent by the time they leave primary school so we are very lucky we are able to offer weekly swimming lessons. However because the pool is warm but the building isn't we have to stop using it from October to April. 

"It would be fantastic if we could use it all year round because our children would be super water competent by the time they leave us. 

"It would also give us more scope for the community to use it. We are a community school so it would be really good to offer the community better facilities."

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