125-year-old swimming club runs urgent fundraising appeal to keep afloat in Milton Keynes

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A popular and history-steeped swimming club is facing closure due to the effects of the Covid pandemic.

Newport Pagnell Swimming club needs to raise £10,000 or it could be forced to close.

The club dates back to 1896, when local children were taught to swim in a stretch of the River Lovat and took part in annual competitions sponsored by businesses in the town.

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In 1957 a former swimmer of the club Harry Middleton, gifted money to provide a pool for the town and this became the club's base for training and competition. Middleton pool is still the club's home today.

Newport Pagnell Swimming Club membersNewport Pagnell Swimming Club members
Newport Pagnell Swimming Club members

But, despite have 260 members and a thriving programme of competitions and events, the swimming club is sinking financially due to the effects of Covid lockdown and restrictions.

"When we went into lockdown in March, pools closed. We decided as a club we would not charge full fees during this period as we could not offer swimming and to help parents whose own finances were also being affected by Covid-19,2 said a spokesman..

"We were able to get back to the pool in August with Covid-19 restrictions causing increased pressures. Limiting number of swimmers in each lane and the strict procedures being applied have put a severe strain on the finances of the club.

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The spokesman added: "Our small pot of reserves which helped us through the first lockdown is almost empty and lockdown 2 in November has increased the problem. Our income is received from fees, memberships and fundraising and due to lower numbers and limited fundraising opportunities during this current pandemic our outgoings are exceeding our income.

"If this continues and we do not raise the funds our club will have to close."

The club is an important part of the local community of Newport Pagnell and surrounding areas. Its activities range from Learn to Swim classes for beginners to squads that train seven times a week.

"Just before the lockdown in March we competed in County Championships winning 14 golds, 22 silvers and nine bronze medals. This is a great achievement for a small local club," said the spokesman.

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He added: "The club is one big family. We have children whose grandparents and parents swam for the club. We have a Uni squad which allows the older swimmers to swim when they are home from university and many of our volunteers have swum for the club themselves. Some volunteers just cannot leave and continue to help the club long after their children have left to go to university or work."

Young member Daniel, who is 13, said: "Newport Pagnell swimming club is more than just a club to me. It is a family and somewhere I can show myself. It is a supportive, friendly club that lets me shine in what I do. If it closed, I would lose more than just a club I would lose: friends and the stable platform that I trust and thrive on."

Fellow member Ethan, aged 10, said: "If Newport Pagnell Swimming Club closes, I will be very sad and angry because I love swimming at this swimming club. I also would miss my friends there. The coaches are equally as kind as parents and teachers and they are welcoming. The swimming club is good for your health and fitness. The coaches make you swim to the best of your ability to get better."

The club has launched a crowdfunding appeal and has so far raised £1,990 of its £10,000 target.

You can make a donation here .

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