Wotton under Edge Swimming Pool Club, a group of volunteers who mobilised the whole community in support of their local pool, are the latest winners of the Prime Minister's Big Society Award.
The Club are a group of swimming enthusiasts and local supporters of the pool, many of whom have given up their time and expertise for many years in a number of ways including maintenance, lifeguarding and working on large projects to develop the pool, such as its retractable ‘green house’ roof.
When it looked like the pool may close, the Wotton Swimming Club proved its dedication to the pool and the community, by working with the local council to look at options to secure its future. With the support of the Club, the local council held a rare Parish Poll, allowing everyone in the town a say on whether they wanted to contribute slightly higher council tax to allow local people to take over the running of the pool themselves.
The Club engaged and secured the support of the community, with the referendum being passed by over 90%. Its members then worked hard with the council to form Wotton under Edge Swimming Pool Limited which has taken on the running of the pool and its future development.
All their hard work, passion and commitment cumulated with pool reopening last month, in time for its usual season.
The Prime Minister said:
Huge congratulations to all the dedicated and passionate volunteers at Wotton under Edge Swimming Club and all those they have mobilised to get involved with the pool’s future.
The Club have demonstrated the Big Society in so many ways: from volunteering their time and expertise, to galvanising and gaining the backing of a whole town, giving people a say on a local service, and finally, taking on the running of that service and improving it for the benefit of the whole area.
It just shows what a community can do when it comes together. A fantastic achievement. I wish them every success for the future.
Alan George, Chair of Wotton under Edge Swimming Pool Committee said:
Wotton Pool was built by children and staff at the town secondary school in the late 50s. The sense of ownership, optimism and self-determination has thrived in the town and has meant Wotton has taken responsibility for a number of community facilities. For example, there is a thriving community cinema and the rescue of the pool was a natural extension of this ethic. I am thrilled by the generosity of strangers and volunteers alike and so grateful to work with a team of givers, all of whom want to make our town a great place to live.
Members of the Wotton under Edge Swimming Pool Club will join other Big Society Award winners at a reception at Downing Street later this week.