The end of an era and a final splash for Abbey Swimming Club


Becky Heath (left) accepting the £7,000 cheque on behalf of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance

It is with great sadness that the Abbey Swimming Club has had to permanently close after more than 30 years as a community swimming club.
Located at the Milton Abbey School pool, the club had its first swimming session on Tuesday 14th June 1988. The club was run solely by volunteers – including the lifeguards, swimming teachers and all committee members. For almost 32 years (the pandemic forced a closure in March 2020) the club held four swimming sessions per week – members were aged from a few months to the over-80s.
The club ran children’s and adult’s swimming lessons, and for many years diving lessons, toddler swimming lessons, and aquafit. There were also regular galas at the pool – both competitive ones, and those for fun. The club had close links with Milton Abbas surgery and offered ‘back to fitness’ sessions for many surgery referrals.
But it wasn’t all about swimming – it was also a valued social club for its members. There were regular events to raise funds, such as New Year’s Eve barn dances, summer barbecues, skittles evenings and quiz nights. Since 2001 they have run the cream tea stall at the Milton Abbas Street Fair. The whole swimming community came together at these events.
After COVID the club was hoping to re-open as before. Unfortunately, under new safeguarding rules Milton Abbey School could only allow the club to access the pool during some school holidays. Much searching couldn’t find another pool that offered the ‘community club’ facilities. In September 2022 the members reluctantly voted to wind up the club.
On the evening of 18th January 2023, a farewell reception was held at the Milton Abbas Reading Rooms. The club assets were distributed to the local charities chosen by club members and the following cheques were presented during the evening:
£7,000 to Wimborne Wagtails – A Dorset based swimming club for the disabled. The cheque was received by the club chairman, Julian Vernon.
£7,000 to Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. The cheque was received by Becky Heath.
£7,000 to Weldmar Hospicecare – A Dorset based charity providing specialist end of life care. The cheque was received by Marie Notley.
£2,000 to Milton Abbas Street Fair. Cheque was received by chairman, Freddie Robinson.

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