THE Commissioner for Children and Young People has added her weight to the long-standing campaign for a hydrotherapy pool to be provided at Roddensvale School.
Patricia Lewsley-Mooney visited the school after learning that pupils are still without the long-awaited facility.
The commissioner had been involved some years ago in helping to progress the scheme to build a pool on site at Roddensvale and was very disappointed to learn recently that the project failed to proceed due to budget cuts in 2011.
After meeting some of the pupils, for whom hydrotherapy would be most appropriate, Ms Lewsley spent some time discussing the matter with principal, John Madden. She offered suggestions on how he and the board of governors at Roddensvale might move the scheme forward and also offered to contact the Minister for Education plus health officials on the school’s behalf.
Previously, Ms Lewsley arranged a meeting for all the various agencies involved and was able to help facilitate agreement for the pool to be built.
Mr Madden said: “It was very good of the Commissioner for Children and Young People to visit the school so promptly after she was made aware of our plight by school governors.
“She was wonderful with the children and fully appreciated the very great need for a pool to be built at the school. I don’t think she could quite believe, similar to many people in the area, that the pool had not been built after her initial involvement. I explained that although plans for the pool had been put out to tender there had been a legal challenge by one of the builders after the scheme had been awarded to a competitor.
“This delayed the project and then the allocation of reduced funding for building works in the next financial year led to the pool being placed on a list of projects for consideration subject to finance.”
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The principal added: “Everyone here was devastated when the pool development was shelved. This was meant to be a community resource and user groups ranging from preschool children and their parents, mainstream pupils with hydrotherapy needs, adult centre users and of course our own pupils have all been disadvantaged by the failure of this scheme.
“All we are looking for now is a decision regarding whether or not the pool will be built and if so some idea of the time scale? This will allow us the move forward with this scheme or make other arrangements. The frustration of all those associated with the pool is considerable.
“I am very grateful to Mrs Lewsley for her support and for using the power of her office to progress the matter with all concerned.”
After calling in to see pupils, Ms Lewsley asked that school management inform her of the most recent statistics regarding potential pool usage together with previous documentation regarding the pool to assist her.
“It is hoped that her involvement will raise the profile of this important issue and deliver this valuable service to Larne,” said Mr Madden.