Wirksworth swimming pool officially reopened last weekend after a major revamp made possible by a former customer who died in 2016.
The pool, on Hannage Way, was renamed the Sheila Kirkland Community Pool at a ceremony on Saturday, April 14, in honour of the local benefactor whose determination and financial support allowed for an extension to be built.
Sheila’s daughter Sarah Millington said: “Mum would be over the moon. She loved the pool because, as a poor swimmer, she felt very safe and said it had a lovely family feel. Sadly she isn’t here to see what has been achieved and how fantastic the improved facilities are, but she would be very proud.”
The facility was taken into community ownership in 2012, and has flourished ever since with user numbers growing.
But the equipment inherited from the former owners has gradually broken down, requiring the replacement of the boiler, circulation system, pumps, pipes and other plant.
The costs were met with grants and donations, the most notable of which came from Sheila, who regularly attended aquafit classes at the pool, and her husband John, chairman of construction firm Bowmer & Kirkland.
When they heard of the trustees’ ambitions to build an extended reception area and changing facilities, the couple again committed themselves to the project financially, which helped to generate further support from Tarmac, The Exon Trust and Sport England in addition to community fundraising.
John’s background was also integral to sourcing professional services that would not otherwise have been afforded.
When Sheila died in 2016, she bequeathed further donations to the project, and John has continued in his support, which has ultimately allowed for the project to go ahead.
Pool trustee, Gabriel Bebenko, said: “It is safe to say, that without the support of Sheila and John, the pool would not be open anymore.
“The support they have shown us has been immense. None of this would have been possible without Sheila.”
Chair of trustees David Baker added: “All the trustees and staff are incredibly grateful to the Kirklands, our grant funders and everyone who has worked to make this possible.
“We are excited for the future of the pool and have plans for further improvements.”