By Maximilian Clarke

A group of volunteers that rallied their community to take on, rejuvenate and run a heated open-air swimming pool in Beccles, have received the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.

Beccles Lido Limited was set up following the closure of a once much-loved, open air pool, which had been running at a huge loss and was in need of massive investment.

“Beccles Lido shows the great things that can happen when the power of a community is unleashed,” said the Prime Minister.

A group of local residents, conscious of what a tremendous loss to the area this would be, galvanised the people of Beccles and set about the ambitious task of revamping, re-opening and running the pool themselves.

Shaun Crowley from Beccles Lido added: “It is a fantastic endorsement of Beccles Lido Limited’s charitable, social, sport, health, business and environmental goals. It will be a real inspiration as we continue our work at the Lido and embark on our next project to save the Public Hall & Theatre in Beccles, which is under similar threat of closure.”

The determined volunteers secured overwhelming support from the town for the plans, with local people and businesses pledging time, money and expertise. Presented with such passion and strong support for the scheme, the local council agreed to start negotiating the transfer of the pool and, in 2010, Beccles Lido Limited acquired the freehold.

Since that point, the Beccles group has raised over £300,000 and motivated a huge number of volunteers to be part of their exciting project, with over 10,000 volunteer hours clocked up. The group hold coffee mornings, quizzes and dances which have not only raised much-needed funds, but also brought the town together, giving them the chance to discuss the scheme’s progress and meaning local residents have a real stake in the lido’s future. They even organised their own lottery which continues to provide a regular income for the pool, fast approaching £6,000 annually.

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