A COMMUNITY group is appealing for support with funding a project which would help save a swimming pool at a school in Stockbridge from closure.

Having sought guidance from Swim England, the group has submitted plans to create a commercially sustainable community pool at Test Valley School

The current outdoor pool has been out of use for more than a year and, at the moment, the intent of the school, for budgetary reasons, is to close it permanently in early 2022 and infill.

However, fundraising is now underway to create a fully enclosed pool with changing facilities, showers, toilets, and sustainable heating.

The group says this would allow the pool to be used all year round, and become a “valued community asset”.

Its hope is that the facility could be used not only by the school, but also for other purposes including Learn to Swim lessons, lane swimming, water sports, swim fit and disability swimming.

More than £50,000 has already been raised, and other sources of funding are now being urgently sought.

The pool has been a financial burden to the school in recent years.

In March 2019, parents reacted in anger when the school took the decision to close the pool amidst budget concerns, and a petition was set up. The 250 Club was then launched in September 2019 to pay for the ongoing running costs of the pool, while a permanent long-term solution was found.

There was a lot of interest and members included staff at the school, parents, and the wider community, who were all keen to renovate and upgrade the pool and enable it to be used by the community. There was also support from many local organisations and charities, including generous donations from The Leckford Estate, Trout ‘n About, the Dumbreck Charity and Stockbridge Cinema. The breadth of support suggests strong demand for pool space.

Talking about the community group’s plans Liz Howard, Test Valley School PTA, says: "This is a fantastic new proposal which will create the pool into a state of the art, indoor pool with modern accessible facilities for all the community to use.

“Even better, it will be a professionally run charitable enterprise with all the activities you would expect like swimming lessons, aqua fit, lane swimming and fun sessions.”

The school governors want to make a decision about whether or not to keep the pool by the end of this year. The group is sending a Progress Report on their proposals to them next Wednesday, November 12, and hope to show that they have the backing of the community.

For more information, or to help support the financing of the project, email: testvalleypool@gmail.com