Preston headteacher’s 110 kilometre cycle bid to raise funds for pool

Chris Shields, headteacher at Walton-le-Dale Primary School, is planning to take part in a grueling 110k cycle race in South Africa

Chris Shields, headteacher at Walton-le-Dale Primary School, is planning to take part in a grueling 110k cycle race in South Africa

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A primary school headteacher is going more than “the extra mile” to help swell funds for a major refurbishment project.

In fact, Chris Shields, from Walton-le-Dale Primary near Preston, will be going 68.35 miles – or 110 kilometres, on a cycle in the blazing heat to help upgrade his school’s pool.

While pupils are sat in class, next month their headteacher will be taking part in what is billed as the largest timed cycle race in the world – The Argus Cape Race – through uphill terrain along the South African coastline.

He wanted to do something to kick-start fund raising and, so 
far, his plans are going swimmingly.

The Severn Drive establishment is one of only a handful 
of state schools to have a pool but the running costs and repairs have to be met by the school.

Mr Shields, a keen runner, said the pool needs refurbishing and, in order to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary, he wanted to do something major to raise as much money as he can.

He said: “It is a valuable and treasured facility, used by the school and the wider community, but the school has to fund it through lettings.”

Mr Shields said that, over the 43 years since the pool opened, tens of thousands of local children have learned to swim.

He is hoping that, along with current users, many past swimmers will rally round to pledge to support the refurbishment.

The headteacher said: “It is not just a pool for use by the school.

“It is a very popular and much loved facility and is recognised as such by the community and the groups, from parent and toddler groups and swimming clubs to the adults who use it.

“But the pool does need refurbishing and that costs money.”

He said that while a new filter could be bought for around £3,000, simple tiling could cost up to £10,000 and replacing the cover in excess of £20,000.

He would also like to see the changing rooms updated.

Mr Shields has been training for his arduous task by spending hours on an exercise bike at his gym.

He said: “I’m not a cyclist but I have obtained funding off my own back so I can go and raise funds for our fantastic swimming 
pool.”

The former county runner said: “Swimming is a life skill and the children at our school – and in the community– benefit from this pool but being able to swim from nursery age right up until they leave.

“By the end of year six, other children don’t swim 25 metres like in other schools, by the time they are in year three and four they are getting mile certificates.”