CHILDREN are looking forward to enjoying a newly refurbished swimming pool, toilets and changing facilities after the Royal Navy helped with renovation work.
Staff and students of Alverstoke Church of England Junior School were joined by the crew and engineers of HMS Diamond to fit out the new pool and changing facilities.
While the £30,000 of refurbishment finance was provided by fundraising from the Friends of Alverstoke, the navy provided expertise and manpower to turn the plan into a reality.
Headteacher Graham Cutter said: ‘There’s been a pool at the school for 40 years but it was at the end of its life and we were having to consider whether to close it down. The money raised has been used to relay the the pool surface, install a new air source heat pump and to renovate and decorate the changing rooms.’
During the navy outreach day, the children could chat to crew members and help with the tasks. With the new heating system enabling the pool to be reopened after the Easter holidays, the children are excited about seeing their work come to fruition.
Abigail Keith, 10, whose father Ben Keith is Commander of HMS Diamond, said: ‘I am really looking forward to being able to use the pool again and I think it is great the navy are volunteering to help. I’ve been helping with some of the painting.’
As a young governor, Tabitha Richardson, 11, was involved in the planning.
‘We decided to decorate the toilets in a bright white colour as the old ones were dull and not very nice,’ she said.
The crew members had lunch with the children and talked to them about their experiences in the forces.
Jack Jefferies, 10, whose mother and father are also in the navy, said: ‘It has been really exciting having the crew here and I have been asking them lots of questions. I have been helping to drill holes for the new benches.’
The opportunity to meet the pupils and ‘give something back’ to the local community was relished by the crew.
Sub-Lieutenant Ben Cunningham said: ‘It is nice for the crew to get involved in something different and for the navy to been seen working in the community. As well as working on the refurbishment we have also been chatting to children and enjoyed a game of football. They seem very interested in naval life and have been asking lots of questions.’
About 20 per cent of the school’s children are from service families.
Chief Petty Officer Lee Woods, who has children at the associated infant school, said: ‘The school look after our children when we are away at sea and so today is about putting something back. It’s massively important the children and community see a strong relationship with the navy.’
Mr Cutter added: ‘There is a strong bond between the school and the navy and today only reinforces the role they play in the wider community.’