The Friends of Settle Swimming Pool operated as a separate charity from 1996 until 2021. During that time it raised more than £300,000. About half of that was used for regular repairs and maintenance at the pool as well as paying for such items as the cost of school transport to and from swimming lessons. The remaining £155,000 was transferred to the pool trustees in November 2021 as a major contribution to the cost of the redevelopment work that had begun earlier that year.
The stated purpose of the Friends was to “assist in providing, promoting, improving and sustaining the swimming facilities for the benefit of the communities within the Settle area.” In effect it acted as a long-term fund-raising vehicle to meet those additional costs not covered by the day-to-day operation of the pool.
The idea of a separate charity arose in the early 1990s when a group of pool supporters realised that, in the long-term, substantial funds would be needed to sustain and develop the pool building that was by then already 20 years old. The trouble was that at that time the pool was run by representatives of other bodies, including the local authorities, and they tended to be reluctant to provide regular funding if the organisation was seen to be sitting on substantial and growing assets.
The initial meeting of the Friends was attended by just 11 people, half of whom went on to become trustees, but the organisation has enjoyed massive support from the people and businesses of Settle and the surrounding area.
Whilst the Friends received many welcome donations over the years, there were just two major sources of funds. The first was a 200 club. That continues to this day and is now run directly through the main pool charity and raises a regular £2000 a year.
How paper kept us afloat
The second was through the collection of waste paper for recycling. A group of individuals already ran this scheme on behalf of the pool before the Friends organisation was established. But with the creation of the charity the handling of the finances became easier as the income was no longer liable for tax.
Initially the paper was supplied to a local paper mill. But when that closed in the early 2000 the Friends established an arrangement with the Blackburn-based Rishton company who provided containers on the perimeter of the pool carpark. A team of volunteers packed the paper into the containers which when full were transported by Rishton’s premises . A government recycing credits scheme established in the early 2000s effectively doubled the income from paper sales and at its height, around 2010, the scheme was generating an annual income of £20,000 – half from paper sales and half from the credits administered by North Yorkshire County Council.
Things started to go wrong when, faced by the austerity cuts of the 2010s the county council had to axe its recycling credits: this finally ended in 2017. Around that time paper prices fell dramatically as the Chinese stopped taking the sort of paper produced through our scheme.
The Friends continued to operate the scheme as much as a community service as a fund-raiser but it finally ended in 2020 when Covid restrictions made it impossible to operate and by the time it became feasible to start up again, despite some welcome recruits, the number of volunteers had fallen to the point where it was impossible to run the scheme in way local people and businesses had come to expect.
But before that the operation of the scheme had been transferred to the pool trustees as the Friends had decided that a change in the charitable status of the pool – it is now a Charitable Incorporated Organisation – meant that the separation of a capital and current account has become less significant and so there was no longer a need for two charities, with all the additional costs and administration that involved. So in 2019 the Friends Trustees agreed to close as a separate charity once the contract for the new development had been signed.
And in the winter of 2021 the Friends was closed as trustees chairman Alan Smith handed over a cheque for the outstanding assets to Pat Taylor as chair of the pool trustees.