PEOPLE with disabilities will now have better access to the swimming pool at Cotswold Leisure Centre in Cirencester thanks to the installation of new equipment.

The equipment, worth £12,000, comprises a powered transfer hoist, an adjustable changing bed, a 'ranger' chair to transport swimmers to the poolside, and a pool hoist to lift the chair in and out of the water (including for those using a sling)

Funding for the equipment was provided by a grant from Cirencester SCOPE (a small independent charity affiliated to the National SCOPE organisation), financial support from Cotswold District Council (CDC) and the fund raising efforts of Denise Martin.

Denise undertook a range of sponsored activities, including dressing as a mermaid and standing with a collection bucket in a very cold Cirencester Market Place.

Cllr Stephen Hirst, cabinet member for Health and Leisure at CDC, attended a ceremony to celebrate the launch of the equipment.

He said: “Everyone knows that swimming is a great way to exercise and have fun, but people with disabilities are often unable to share the experience with abled bodied friends and family members because most local pools are not equipped for their needs.

"This new equipment is a game changer, and I hope that this will encourage a big increase in take-up from those who previously felt excluded.”

These thoughts were echoed by Barbara Banks, chairman of Cirencester SCOPE, who added: “This equipment makes such a difference to the swimming experience for people of all ages with special needs.

"It’s been fantastic to play a part in bringing these new facilities to Cirencester, and I am sure that it will lead to increased use from a much more diverse range of customers.”

Fund raiser Denise Martin commented: “It’s great to see this project finally become a reality. We now have a fantastic accessible facility for all swimmers to enjoy the water along with family and friends."

Heather Phillips of Cirencester SCOPE said: “Those with disabilities visiting the town will be able to access a nearby toilet which is equipped with a hoist and a changing bed, enabling them to extend their stay should they wish.”