Video and picture gallery: Paralympian Harriet opens pool

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A Paralympic swimmer has nothing but praise for the Market Rasen community which has ‘pooled’ its resources for a town school.

Harriet Lee, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympics in London, was invited to officially open the primary school’s newly refurbished swimming pool last week.

Paralympic bronze medal swimmer Harriet Lee cuts the ribbon on the newly refurbished swimming pool, watched by headteacher Andrew Smith, pupils and some of the Rasen community who came together to make it happen EMN-150903-151135001

Paralympic bronze medal swimmer Harriet Lee cuts the ribbon on the newly refurbished swimming pool, watched by headteacher Andrew Smith, pupils and some of the Rasen community who came together to make it happen EMN-150903-151135001

“It is lovely to be here, especially as at the moment most of us are fighting to keep pools open, so it’s so nice that this school has opted to keep their pool open and give their kids lessons from the age of four,” said Harriet, who spent the afternoon at the school talking to the children.

“Most kids don’t get to learn to swim in school ‘til they are eight or nine, so this is a great opportunity for these children.”

The pool has been in use for many years and more than 25 years ago it was covered in.

“Grandparents of some of our current children can remember wheeling barrows, digging holes and mixing cement,” said chairman of governors Tony Parkinson.

“Since then, on occasions, the pool has had new bits bolted on and repairs done when necessary to keep it going - it has done its job.”

But last year, the decision came it was time to splash out on a new roof to safeguard the pool’s future and also enable it to be used all year round.

And while the roof was the most pressing item for repair, the school also hoped to refurbish the entire building - changing rooms, shower areas, toilets and flooring.

The project was kick-started by a successful £10,000 Lottery Awards for All bid - but that left a lot of money to raise.

“We contacted local charities, businesses and any possible source of money,” added Mr Parkinson.

“This is Market Rasen and as soon as the community knew what was needed fundraising began.”

Donations started to come in, there were collection pots in pubs and shops, coffee mornings and plenty of support closer to home too, with pupils taking part in activities such as bag-packing at the town’s shops and sponsored swims.

And 12-months on and £80,000 spent, the school has a facility to be proud of - the job is done.

“Where has that money come from - it has come from you,” said Mr Parkinson.

“Whether you are a charity, business, parent, part of the Market Rasen community supporting the school, you have made the project possible.

“I have the honour and pleasure to thank you on behalf of the school, staff and governors, but especially on behalf of the children who are using the pool now and the children who will pass through our school and swim long into the future.”