When the public of Tadcaster were asked to draw up a ‘wish list’ of the facilities they wanted for the town, a swimming pool was high on the agenda.
Many other communities would doubtless have made the same request but in most cases the costs and complexities of running a pool would have meant the idea went nowhere.
Tadcaster was different, however, and following a collaboration between a landowner and head teacher a site was found and resources identified to make the dream a reality within the space of a few short years.
That was 1994 and since then Tadcaster Swimming Pool Trust has operated on the goodwill of the public – around 4,000 paying visitors every week to the pool and gym, along with a broad-ranging team of volunteers who have kept the idea afloat for more than a quarter of a century.
Volunteers range from trustees to gardeners, via a list of roles that includes lifeguards, receptionists and IT specialists, with some notching up service running into two decades.
The income from customers, coupled to the efforts of volunteers, was enough to sustain the venture until the coronavirus pandemic struck and since then it has been supported by grants, including £3,000 awarded by North Yorkshire County Councillor Don MacKay.
That has allowed the Trust to ride out the lockdowns and it is now operating again on a limited basis, with hopes that normal conditions will resume as the summer unfolds.
Manager Chris Porter said: “From the outset, it was only going to be possible with the support of volunteers and that is what makes it special and different to the majority of swimming pools.
“Volunteers do the majority of roles, reception, lifeguards, the maintenance team. We have expertise in most areas, including the trustees.”
The organisation also hosts various events to raise money, which can bring in up to £10,000 a year.
They are linked to funding specific projects, which, Chris said, had proved an effective way of gaining public support, because people could see clearly what they were supporting.
Since reopening in April there has been a surge in demand from users: “We have been astonished at the number of people wanting to come back,” he said.
When they are able to open fully and income streams return to normal, the next job will be to look at replacing some equipment, which, after more than 25 years in use, is now getting close to the end of its life.