A DISABLED man who was determined to keep therapeutic swimming lessons for the disabled running after a college pulled the plug on its scheme, is delighted with the fruits of his hard work over the past year.
Retired policeman Roy Radley was left fuming at the announcement that Halton College was axing its disabled swimming provision early in 2005. With support from the Weekly News he managed to raise enough cash to keep a limited number of lessons running.
A year on, the scheme, at the pool at Chestnut Lodge School, has gone from strength to strength, growing to three separate swimming courses for around 36 people - he estimates that more than 250 people have learned to swim thanks to the 'rescued' scheme since then.
The disabled swimming sessions are also said to be replacing funding that would have been lost by Chesnut Lodge School or the use of its pool when the college decided to focus on swimming schemes for able-bodied young people.
With help from Halton council, the group, chaired by Mr Radley, has obtained grants from national schemes, gained donations and run fundraisers which have paid for pool use, a qualified instructor/first aider/lifesaver and provided enough cash to allow the £3 cost of lessons to be subsidised by 50p!
Some of the initial cash came from a Widnes businessman who had heard about the swimmers' plight in the Weekly News. Since then the group has secured grants from the community chest and Sport For All.
The group is looking forward to receiving a cheque for £400, to be presented by Cll Rob Polhill this month during the group's first annual meeting.
The group hopes members of the Let's Go stroke club will be among those signing up in the coming months.
Mr Radley, of Factory Lane, Widnes, said: 'I can hardly believe it! This is such a big thing now with so many people involved. Absolutely brilliant is the only way I can describe the scheme and the way it is running at the moment. We are fully booked at the moment.
'It is a year since the college pulled out and I asked if I could run the disabled swimming lessons.
'I estimate that in the past 12 months since the closure announcement was made more than 250 disabled people have been taking part in the lessons.
'It has really helped out a lot of people.'
To book a place on one of the courses, call Mr Radley on 0151 420 4164.