Pool project donation was club’s final act

Amy Dunn of MSRRF, second from right, receives the cheque from former Morpeth Aquadis Club members Beryl Tingey, Gill Armstrong and Gena Fleming.
Amy Dunn of MSRRF, second from right, receives the cheque from former Morpeth Aquadis Club members Beryl Tingey, Gill Armstrong and Gena Fleming.

An organisation that taught disabled people in Morpeth to swim has used its remaining funds to support a charity’s big project.

Morpeth Aquadis Club, which was in existence for 36 years, closed due to a lack of numbers and pool schedule changes.

Three of the former members recently went along to Benmar House in Stobhill to present a cheque for £1,713.33 – the money that was left in its account – to the MS Research and Relief Fund (MSRRF).

The charity is progressing plans to install a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool that will fully meet the needs of its users.

MSRRF network and marketing manager Sue Dowson said: “We were absolutely delighted to receive this very generous donation towards the hydrotherapy pool project.

“We look forward to welcoming the ladies back to Benmar House to discuss and plan how the legacy of Aquadis could be recognised in the pool building when it is complete.”

The first meeting for disabled swimmers at the Riverside Leisure Centre was in February 1978. It was the idea of Mr Ron Houliston, who was the pool manager at the time.

After a slow start, the membership built up to around 30 and it was decided to form a club. In October 1978, a committee was appointed.

Apprentices at Swinney’s, under the direction of Maurice Ridley, made a manual hoist that was donated to the club and gave valuable service for a number of years. In the early 1990s, a fund-raising initiative enabled a hydrologic hoist to be purchased.

Morpeth Lions Club donated a very sturdy table to help parents with changing and drying their children on the poolside.

Gill Armstrong got involved when the club was formed as she had achieved her Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) teacher certificate. She remained a member until it closed.

She said: “Some members were able to work towards ASA awards. Some came to work on exercises and others enjoyed the social contacts.

“The club held occasional social functions and for several years, members took part in the Morpeth Lions Club Mayorathon Swim and raised money to donate to other charities such as the MS Society. From the start, the club was indebted to the Riverside Leisure Centre staff for support they gave to the swimmers and helpers.

“The Wednesday evening disabled session was eventually extended to a general swim session and this didn’t work well, and only one swimmer remained when the club closed.

“We wanted the remaining funds to help other swimmers benefit from the hydrotherapy pool that is set to be built at Benmar House.”