Club fears being left high and dry

Borders Disabled Swim Group, known as the Dippers, is looking for volunteers so that it can continue to provide twice weekly swim sessions for those with minor disabilities as well as those who are wheelchair-bound. The club celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015 with the support of Borders MP Calum Kerr.
Borders Disabled Swim Group, known as the Dippers, is looking for volunteers so that it can continue to provide twice weekly swim sessions for those with minor disabilities as well as those who are wheelchair-bound. The club celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015 with the support of Borders MP Calum Kerr.
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Borders Disabled Swimming Group could be left high and dry after 27 years if it can’t secure new volunteers to help it keep going.

Around 25 Borderers who have minor disabilities or are wheelchair-bound currently rely on the service to get to weekly swim sessions in Kelso and Jedburgh via free transport.

The Kelso-based group, known as the Dippers, was founded in 1990 by Pat Tait, and at one point it had a membership of 158 with its roll call of volunteers reaching into double figures.

However, now a lack of volunteering interest has left the club with just one helper at Jedburgh’s Laidlaw Memorial Pool and no driver for the Wednesday session in Kelso, where there are just two helpers.

Its most recent driver for Kelso, Michael Lothian, left at the end of February when he moved to the west coast.

Morag Sharp, the group’s vice-convener, told the Southern: “The group’s important because it offers friendship and support to encourage each other to do more and work towards what can really be achieved.

“We help people and their families to change up routines and give them a break too as caring for someone you love can be distressing.”

The group offers memberships to anyone over 18 across the Borders.

Its volunteers also provide basic support such as help with dressing, exercise guides and taking members for a nearby lunch after the swimming session.

Morag, 52, of Haughhead Avenue, Earlston, added: “I started in 1999, when we had a lot of local help, with volunteers into double figures.

“There doesn’t seem to be that much interest now for people to help the general public, and it’s not just us but in general. We are a bit desperate.”

Calum Kerr, the SNP’s candidate to retain his Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk seat in the House of Commons, said: “I was glad to have the chance to visit the group not long after I was elected as an MP in 2015 and I saw what a big difference they make to the lives of disabled people in our community.”

The group is now seeking a driver for to take members from their homes in Galashiels, Earlston and Coldstream on Wednesdays to Kelso Swimming Pool and a pool helper for Jedburgh on a Monday.

No driver is required for the Jedburgh session.

Anyone interested in helping out should call Morag on 01896 849235.