MAJOR renovation work is underway at Helmsley open-air swimming pool to preserve it for future generations.

The pool, which is one of only about 100 public outdoor pools still in use in the country, was in danger of closing last year.

However, due to the efforts of volunteers, donations and grant funding, phase one of the refurbishment work has started, but urgent funding and support is needed to complete the second phase.

Val Travis, one of the volunteers, said the aim was to refurbish the changing rooms and provide outside showers in order to transform the pool into an “attractive, efficient, fit for purpose and self-sustaining amenity for all ages and abilities”.

“We have successfully raised the amount required through grants from the North York Moors National Park community fund, the Cooperative Community Fund, individual donations and match funding,” she said.

“This phase will also include rearrangement of the existing internal spaces to create a reception and admininstration space, a café preparation area, secure storage areas and removal of condemned showers.”

Val said phase two would involve improvement of the pool surrounds to provide a family and eco-friendly, safe environment for swimmers and spectators.

“The pool site is surrounded on three sides by an ugly, grey concrete panelled wall,” she said.

“Our plan is to decorate at least one side by engaging primary school pupils from the catchment area of the pool in the design and production of a colourful backdrop.

“Schools have been contacted and we have had a positive response. The remaining wall will be set aside for acknowledging our sponsors, to be completed by April or May this year.”

Other improvements will include a toddler play area with sand and water toys, resurfacing the concrete surrounds of the pool and removal of grass areas and replace with artificial turf.

The current works are expected to be completed in time for the 2015 opening.

Helmsley Open Air swimming pool was built in 1968 as a freshwater heated pool, measuring 20 metres by eight metres.

It was officially opened by the then Duke of Norfolk in 1969 and the Gazette & Herald described it at the time as, “fulfilling a long awaited amenity in Ryedale”.

According to the Lidos Organization, it is one of only about 100 public outdoor pools still in use in the UK, outside London.

Val said there were grant applications in the pipeline which, if successful, would go some way to meeting the approximate £30,000 cost of all the improvements in phase two.

“However, we would welcome sponsorship from local businesses in the form of donations of materials, manpower or funding,” she added.

“All sponsors will be advertised on our supporters’ wall and we would also welcome donations from private individuals.”

Val said that in order to secure the long-term future of the pool, which is managed by Chris Parkin, more volunteers were needed.

“If you want to make sure that you and your friends and family and, like me, your grandchildren will enjoy many more years at Helmsley Pool, would you be willing to give a maximum 20 hours in total of your time from May to September?” she added.

“Once the work on the changing rooms is completed we will need help with painting inside and outside. Other areas that we will need help with in the future would be – simple DIY, basic cleaning, relief reception, publicity, sign writing, in the café and maintenance of our website. There may also be opportunities to train as a lifeguard.”

If you would like more information about volunteering at Helmsley pool or want to offer your time please contact: Val Travis, on 01439 771850.