Shropshire Star

Quarter-of-a-million pound fundraiser launched to help leisure centre charity face the next 50 years

A £250,000 fundraising campaign has been launched to help a much-loved community asset through its next 50 years.

Josh Dickin, the High Sheriff Mandy Thorn and deputy lieutenants Katherine Garnier and Fiona Rogers-Coltman with pupils

The swimming pool in Bishop's Castle's swimming pool was built by public subscription 50 years ago and has served the community well over that time.

And the community has a track record of backing the sports and arts centre in Bishops Castle, with a charity called SpArC - standing for Sports and Arts in the Community. They have already raised over £280k towards improving the fitness centre and other facilities at the leisure centre.

A SpArC spokesperson said: "However, it is now time for the community to dig deep again and raise funds in the region of £250k to reduce both the pool’s running costs and environmental impact, as well as improving access for both young and old."

High Sheriff and David Preshous

To launch this campaign and to find out more about the plans for the pool the High Sheriff of Shropshire, Mrs Mandy Thorn, was welcomed to SpArC in Bishop's Castle on Wednesday afternoon by the trustees of the Save the SpArC charity.

On the same afternoon, primary and secondary school students undertook a 'Swim 50' challenge to raise money for the pool, and some 30 adults were sponsored to cover as many lengths as they could in 50 minutes.

Jean Shirley, chair of trustees, said: "We were delighted to welcome the High Sheriff of Shropshire to our corner of rural south west Shropshire.

"We are proud to show Mrs Thorn what has already been achieved by the local community with support from the Save the SpArC Charity and to share our aspirations for the future.”

Wynne Foundation cheque

She added: "We are delighted to have not only the High Sheriff of Shropshire with us but also two deputy lieutenants: Mrs Fiona Rogers-Coltman and Mrs Katherine Garnier.  We are enormously grateful for their support."

This was followed by a presentation of £1,250 to the charity from Graham Wynn of the Wynn Foundation, to fund lifeguard training for local young people.

High Sheriff, David Preshous, Fiona Rogers-Coltman and Katherine Garnier

Graham Hemmings, charity treasurer, said: "Along with the major capital project funding appeal launched today we are also focussed on improving training and qualifications for young people.

"This grant will support them to become qualified lifeguards, much needed at SpArC.  The more lifeguards we have, the wider the swimming programme can be.  We are very grateful to the Wynn Foundation for their generous donation."

During a busy afternoon, David Preshous, headteacher at the High School when the pool was built, read an elegy that he had written to mark the occasion. Well-known locally for his witty observations on local matters, this poem was no exception and captured the story of the pool at SpArC from the early fundraising days.

And it includes the hopeful lines:

Two-fifty grand will make our souls ecstatic,

And guarantee facilities aquatic.

So now we launch our passionate appeal,

With pride and confidence, and nerves of steel.

For more information about the SpArC charity, see its Facebook page savethesparc.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the SpArC charity can do so by sending a cheque to Enterprise House, Bishops Castle, made payable to "Sport & Art in the Community (SPARC) SW Shropshire or by contacting the treasurer by email on to arrange a BACS payment.