A group of volunteers that rallied their community to take on, rejuvenate and run a heated open-air swimming pool in Beccles has received the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.
Beccles Lido Limited was set up following the closure of a once much-loved, open air pool, which had been running at a huge loss and was in need of massive investment.
A group of local residents, conscious of what a tremendous loss to the area this would be, galvanised the people of Beccles and set about the ambitious task of revamping, re-opening and running the pool themselves.
The determined volunteers secured overwhelming support from the town for the plans, with local people and businesses pledging time, money and expertise. Presented with such passion and strong support for the scheme, the local council agreed to start negotiating the transfer of the pool and, in 2010, Beccles Lido Limited acquired the freehold.
Since that point, the Beccles group has raised over £300,000 and motivated a huge number of volunteers to be part of their exciting project, with over 10,000 volunteer hours clocked up. The group hold coffee mornings, quizzes and dances which have not only raised much-needed funds, but also brought the town together, giving them the chance to discuss the scheme’s progress and meaning local residents have a real stake in the lido’s future. They even organised their own lottery which continues to provide a regular income for the pool, fast approaching £6,000 annually.
Congratulating Beccles Lido Limited, the Prime Minister said:
Beccles Lido shows the great things that can happen when the power of a community is unleashed.
Congratulations to Beccles Lido Limited and all the many volunteers and local businesses who decided to take action and play a part in the pool’s future. Through your passion, determination and great community spirit, you have shown what the Big Society is all about and created not just a wonderful new lido that the town can come together and enjoy, but a stronger community too.
On receiving the award, Shaun Crowley from Beccles Lido said:
I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of all of the volunteers and local organisations who have helped us to save the pool and create Beccles Lido.
It is a fantastic endorsement of Beccles Lido Limited’s charitable, social, sport, health, business and environmental goals. It will be a real inspiration as we continue our work at the Lido and embark on our next project to save the Public Hall & Theatre in Beccles, which is under similar threat of closure.
Beccles Lido Limited have overhauled virtually every bit of equipment at the pool, as well as carrying out a host of energy saving and energy generating improvements that have both reduced costs and reduced the Lido’s carbon footprint. The lido has been transformed from a £60,000 annual loss with less than 8,500 swimmers in 2008, into a profitable local leisure facility and tourist destination that had approaching 30,000 visitors in a 15 week 2011 summer season.
Notes to editors
From Beccles Lido Limited
On Beccles Lido
Beccles Lido Limited is a community volunteer run charity whose vision was to create a destination facility, Beccles Lido, where local people, visitors and tourists would want to visit and where bathers could have fun, keep fit or just relax in the beautiful surroundings of the river Waveney. Despite reducing numbers of visitors and losing money for many years, Beccles Lido Ltd believed that if a longer term plan was implemented, the pool could not only be saved but improved, that visitors would increase and that the pool could be viable.
This vision was realised when the Lido re-opened in Summer 2010. It is now in its second season, seeing unprecedented numbers of visitors and is profitable!
On Beccles Public Hall
Now Beccles Lido Limited’s vision is about to be extended as Beccles Lido Limited looks to expand its asset base through acquisition and operation of the Public Hall in Beccles.
Beccles Public Hall was built in 1785 and is a large meeting hall available for public use. Works to improve access to the basement dressing rooms and replace the heating boiler were carried out in 2006; but further investment is needed to reverse years of neglect and Waveney District Council has decided that they cannot make this investment. So unless an alternative body steps forward to acquire and run the Public Hall it will be sold.
Beccles Lido Limited believes that funds can be raised for the Public Hall’s repair and improvement and that with more entrepreneurial management the Public Hall can become a more modern facility of which Beccles can be proud and which can be used for meetings, shows, concerts, dances, exhibitions and any number of social and other events.
Beccles Lido Limited’s vision is for the Public Hall to become a vibrant meeting place and entertainment facility that local people, visitors and tourists will want to use and visit regularly and in the numbers required to make it a thriving local business.
With over £20,000 already raised Beccles Lido Limited are now in advanced negotiations with the Council to acquire the Public Hall in early 2012.
From Downing Street
On the Big Society Awards
The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrate the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.
The award focuses upon three specific areas:
- promoting social action - people being, and being encouraged to be, be more involved in their communities through giving time, money and other resources
- empowering communities - local people taking control of how things are done in their area and being helped to do this by local government and others
- opening up public services - public sector organisations and individuals demonstrating innovative ways of delivering public services and charities, social enterprises and private companies showing new ways of delivering public services