A national day of supporting local pools facing unprecedented pressure
February 20, 2023
lifeguard overlooking pool

Abbeycroft Leisure invites the whole community to demonstrate their support for much loved local swimming pools by coming along and joining them for #BigSwimDay.

The event, on Friday 24 February, aims to demonstrate the level of local public support for swimming pools and other public leisure and cultural facilities, at a time of unprecedented pressure. The campaign is being held across the country.

Abbeycroft manages twelve leisure centres on behalf of their partners, West Suffolk Council and Babergh District Council with six pools in Bury St Edmunds, Hadleigh, Haverhill, Mildenhall, Newmarket and Sudbury.

Residents are invited to come along with family and friends and to post their support on social media.

Supporting the campaign will not only spread the word about the health and wellbeing benefits of swimming but also encourage more people to use local pools and keep them open.

Due to inflation and soaring fuel utility bills Abbeycroft has seen, since 2020, energy costs rise by approximately £1.5M per year. Swimming pools are particularly dependent on energy use, both in maintaining the ambient temperature in the facility and in heating the pool water to the right temperature for leisure use. Abbeycroft has taken measures to source renewable energy and to improve energy efficiency.

Many pools have closed or finding it hard to stay open following national decisions to scale back financial support to help cover their energy costs. This comes on top of financial challenges following closure during the COVID pandemic, and public expenditure constraints over many years.

However, Abbeycroft are more fortunate than many other leisure trusts across the UK, due to the financial support they have been given by both their partner councils.

West Suffolk Council recently announced in their budget proposals, designed to help the most vulnerable, drive health, prosperity and improve the environment, financial support for Abbeycroft Leisure. This is to ensure pools in West Suffolk remain open despite soaring utility and energy costs.

Babergh District Council is also committed to working with Abbeycroft to keep Kingfisher Pool in Sudbury and Hadleigh Pool and Leisure as valuable assets for the health and wellbeing of their communities. It is focused on providing the best outcomes for every visitor’s mental and physical health, and making sure the centres are cost-effective for taxpayers across the district.

Warren Smyth, CEO at Abbeycroft said:

“We’re very happy to support The Big Swim Day campaign as it’s the ideal opportunity for local people to show support for local community pools, facing unprecedented financial challenges, and while doing so to have a great time and build mental health and physical wellbeing.”

“We hope that our regular swimmers will make an additional visit on that Friday, and many of the community who have not been for a while, but know the important part public leisure plays in the life of the community, will make a special visit.”

“We’re seeing many of our colleagues and friends across the UK having to make the difficult decision to close their facilities or limit their operation, which is why we are grateful to both West Suffolk Council and Babergh District Council for making the decision to support us to help keep our pools open.”

Cllr Jo Rayner, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Leisure, Heritage and Community Hubs at West Suffolk Council said,

‘So many memories are made learning to swim, going swimming with friends and as time for ourselves. It is fantastic for all ages and abilities, and I hope as many people as possible come along to a pool on Friday 24 February to celebrate it and share their appreciation. This council has made healthy families and communities a priority and we invest in good quality pools and other leisure facilities for all our residents to enjoy. Let’s remember those moments and show our support on the 24 February.’

Cllr Mary McLaren, Babergh cabinet member for Communities and Wellbeing, said:

“Big Swim Day is a perfect opportunity to show how important our pools are to everyone in Babergh. We know how many people use these centres over weeks and months to stay healthy and active, so turning these pools into a hive of activity for the day will highlight exactly how many groups benefit from them. I hope to see all our regular swimmers, families and learners on the 24th!”

To take part in Big Swim Day, visit any Abbeycroft pool on Friday 24 February, no special arrangements are needed and please share your support for the day on social media using #bigswimday.

See the swimming timetables on the Abbeycroft website.

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