The community swimming pool at Upton Junior School in Broadstairs will soon be under new management, securing its future at a time when others around the UK are closing.
The pool reopened 18 months ago after a massive school and public community effort raised more than £130,000 for urgent repairs.
It had been forced to close at Christmas 2014 with the need for at least £80 000 of mechanical repairs to make the pool usable. Other items such as the pool liner, metalwork, pipes, the changing rooms were also past their life-expectancy.
A massive fundraising effort included everything from baths of beans outside ASDA, skate-park sessions, to Easter Egg hunts, millions of cake sales, craft fairs, concerts, sports events, fun days, camp-outs, and the UptonFest music and family fun events.
The pool reopened in November 2016.
To ensure the continued daily smooth-running of the pool Stacy and Ross Simpson will take over management on September 1.
Michaela Lewis, Executive Head Teacher of the Viking Academy Trust that runs Upton, together with Chilton Primary and Ramsgate Arts Primary (pictured), said: “Our continued progression of the pool at a time where school pools across the country are closing is part of our ongoing commitment to remaining at the forefront of school sport both within Kent and beyond.”
As a result of the refurbishment, the Upton pool used extensively both by local community groups and schools.
Mrs Lewis said: “It is clearly an excellent community asset. However, such increased usage does mean that it is time for the next step in terms of its operation.
“We are now at the stage where expert management is required for the pool to continue to operate effectively. Across this year the pool has closed for periods. This is simply because while our school staff work exceptionally hard, there is a level of mechanical expertise now required to maintain such a well-used facility.
“We want the pool to be open all the time, without issue so that no-one ever misses a moment of possible swimming.
“To this end, and after extensive research, the school has decided to enter into partnership with professionals who will be able to ensure it is run without interruption.”
Stacey runs Stacy’s School of Swimming, which has operated successfully from the Upton pool for many years. Ross is highly experienced in the area of pool maintenance and responsible for maintaining DW Sports pools across the country.
In a statement they said: “The pool is a fabulous facility and is much-needed and well-used by so many people of all ages.
“We are happy to be working with Upton School on this new venture and we are pleased that we are helping ensure that the pool has a bright future.”
Pupils will continue to have the same amount of free swimming and community hirers will also be unaffected. The school will continue to own the pool and is simply passing over its management.
Mrs Lewis has already informed parents, pupils, hirers and other schools.
Sports at Upton
She said that swimming is an important part of Upton’s sports programme and added: “Recently Upton School was awarded the inaugural Thanet ‘Sustained Excellence in Sport Award’ for consistent excellence in school sport across the last decade, a period that included Upton becoming the ‘National School for Sport’.
“When it seemed like all hope for the pool was lost 18 months ago, overwhelming support, determination and enthusiasm enabled its repair and reopening. This was a massive boost for the school and all its community users.
“Now we can look forward to another exciting chapter in the history of the Upton pool for our children, other pupils and the community.”
More than 1000 people use the pool in Edge End Road every week and generations of children have learned to swim there since it opened 20 years ago.
Local schools swim there each week, including The Foreland School for pupils with profound, severe and complex needs (PCSN) and Stone Bay School for pupils with autistic spectrum disorder and communication needs.
It provides a safe, non-public environment that caters for the specific needs of individual groups, many of whom are unable to use other public pools in Thanet. The pool is also used weekly by local swim schools, lifeguards associations and OAP groups.