13/09/2016 by Carl Reynolds
Stealing shamelessly from the idea generated at Tooting Bec Lido to celebrate its 100th Birthday, we souls at Shoalstone Pool decided, as one of our 90th Birthday events, to hold a 90 Length Challenge (about 4.5km, as the pool is a non-standard shape and depth). In the spirit of inclusion we framed it so that you could do it in a day, a week or over the summer season. And the day arrived and we had people from around the SW and beyond stroking up and down in the clear and sunny waters; stopping for a chat and to admire the view; feasting on Mrs Ape’s cake and generally enjoying themselves.
Shoalstone Pool is one of the few sea pools left in the UK. Unlike most, it has buildings and infrastructure around it; but like most it is free to enter. So it’s continuing operation is left to the efforts of volunteers in raising money for summer lifeguards (more than 50% of our budget), maintenance, cleaning, insurance and so on. We operate on a shoestring. The £1,000 plus raised by our challenge covers 1/40 of our operating costs, but along with other efforts and a small income stream from car parking and building rents (a cafe and beach huts) we’ve kept it open, since our local district council washed their hands of it a few years ago. I don’t blame them for their decision. Local Council Tax only contributes a small minority of local authority funding – most comes from general taxation and is distributed by central government – and this support has been cut massively since 2010. And if that Government can’t even provide enough for councils to run their social services properly, what chance does the non-essential service have? So I’d like to invite you to help us if you live locally by posting photos of your trip on our FB page; using the @shoalstonepool handle on Twitter; putting a few quid in the donation boxes if you visit; buying the odd bit of merchandise; and finally, stop voting for austerity.