Coniston community dives in to keep pool open

First published in Barrow news The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A LAKE District community has come together to help a school re-open its historic swimming pool.

The outdoor pool at John Rusk-in School, Coniston, had been operational every summer since it opened in the 1960s.

But the community committee which ran the facility in tandem with the school struggled to open it last year when it lost funding.

After lying disused for 20 months, parents, teachers, other staff and the community rallied to raise £3,000 through successful grant applications and school events so the pool could open again this summer.

And a huge clean-up effort saw local tradesmen and others give up their equipment and time for free to spruce up the pool.

Gill Sharp, head of expressive arts and a PE teacher who has co-ordinated the refurbishment, said she was touched by the outpouring of support.

“I seemed to be faced with a sea of yeses,” said Miss Sharp.

“I think that is what’s good about this community. It made me want to cry.

“People were walking through the door with all this equipment saying they wanted to help. It was wonderful.”

Grants from the Sir John Fisher Foundation in Barrow and Coniston Parish Council are helping pay for maintenance work and heating.

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Miss Sharp hopes the pool will become a sustainable and val-uable resource for use by everybody, not just the school.

“I would like the community to be involved in running the pool for the area,” she explained.

“Over the next two summers a rolling programme of use will evolve.

“It will open for our school and the primary school this summer, but I will organise some evening and weekends for the comm-unity.

“The next stage is to get a programme of events to benefit the community.”

Miss Sharp said the pool was a vital part of John Ruskin School, adding: “It’s a very special asset to the school because it’s so unusual to have an outdoor pool, and to be able to swim in this beautiful area outside in the summer is very special.

“It’s a wonderful resource and that is why we are desperate to have it open. I couldn’t bear the thought of it not being open.”

The pool will be open for seven weeks throughout the summer term, possibly from as early as June.

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