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Girton Glebe School in Cambridgeshire celebrates swimming pool anniversary





A plaque has been unveiled at Girton Glebe School to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the official opening of its swimming pool.

Eric Whitehead, one of those that built the pool, unveiling the plaque. Picture: Roger Payne
Eric Whitehead, one of those that built the pool, unveiling the plaque. Picture: Roger Payne

The plaque lists all who were involved in what remains, to this day, “a triumph of teamwork and cooperation”, to quote Brian Foot, the then-headmaster. He had, in 1958, explained to a meeting of parents that he felt it was important to teach children to swim but the county council would not meet the cost of building a swimming pool.

A group of these parents therefore decided that they would build one themselves. Fundraising began followed by much hard work and in June 1961 the pool was officially opened.

On Saturday, September 11, more than 50 people, many descendants of the volunteers involved in the original construction – plus a lady who had worked at the pool as an attendant/lifeguard – were present at the unveiling having travelled from far and wide.

Girton Glebe School's pool celebrated its 60th anniversary on September 11 2021
Girton Glebe School's pool celebrated its 60th anniversary on September 11 2021

The furthest distance travelled was from Germany, while others came from as far away as Devon and South Tyneside. The unveiling ceremony was performed by Eric Whitehead, the last survivor of the original volunteers, while current Year 6 pupils, Wendy and Dominic, spoke about “what the swimming pool means to me”.

Following the unveiling ceremony, a buffet lunch was held at the Old Crown where a celebration cake was shared, accompanied by a glass of Champagne. Stephen Allen, one of the lead organisers of the event – which was to have taken place in July – believes Eric Whitehead will be 91 at the end of this month.

“He used to be Girton Scoutmaster – he was my Scoutmaster when I was a lad,” said Stephen, adding that the day was a great success. “We’ve had all sorts of complimentary remarks, which is always a good sign – people were very happy that they’d had a chance to meet friends from way back when.

“We did, I think, have fewer people turn up than would have turned up in July, but we still had 55 people there altogether.”

Girton Glebe swimming pool plaque unveiling. Group photograph of those representing the builders. Picture: Roger Payne
Girton Glebe swimming pool plaque unveiling. Group photograph of those representing the builders. Picture: Roger Payne

Stephen added: “We have had somebody say that they’re looking forward to the 70th [anniversary], and we are still going to carry on trying to find some of the people that we haven’t managed to find.”

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