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Charles makes splash at unveiling of refurbished community pool

The Prince of Wales was joined by a supermodel and an Olympic swimmer.

The Prince of Wales was joined by a supermodel and an Olympic swimmer as he opened a “decidedly splendid” refurbished open-air pool which was saved from demolition.

Rio 2016 double silver-medallist Duncan Scott dived in as local schoolchildren jumped into the water to celebrate the re-opening of the pool in New Cumnock, East Ayrshire.

Supermodel Eva Herzigova was among the onlookers as a guest of the lead donors Bob and Tamar Manoukian while Viscount Linley and Sir Tom Hunter were also there.

Supermodel Eva Herzigova was among the onlookers as a guest of the lead donors Bob and Tamar Manoukian (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Built in 1966, the swimming pool was saved from demolition by the community-run group Afton Water Leisure and has undergone significant improvement work following funding from the Dumfries House Outreach Programme.

Charles, known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, said: “I could not be more thrilled to be here today to open the swimming pool.

“I was only too keen to try and do what I could to try and help secure its long-term future, and I would like to express our gratitude to Afton Water Leisure for keeping the original pool open against the odds. It’s certainly looking decidedly splendid now.

The Prince of Wales, known as the Duke of Rothesay while in Scotland, chats to locals (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“We pondered how best we could officially open the pool.

“Tartan swimming trunks and the unveiling of an underwater plaque on the bottom of the pool was one suggestion, but we disregarded the idea of me jumping in and thought it seemed more important to recognise the local people.”

He was joined in unveiling the plaque by Georgette Fulton, who worked at the pool when it opened, starting as a cleaner and ending up as head lifeguard.

The Prince of Wales chats to swimmers as he officially opened the refurbished New Cumnock open-air swimming pool in East Ayrshire (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Her name is also on the plaque alongside that of the prince.

She said: “It is looking fabulous, beyond any of our expectations. In the old days it looked like a prison camp with grey walls and barbed wire on top to keep out the midnight bathers, and it was very, very cold.

“I could not believe it when the prince asked me up onto the stage and to see my name up there on the plaque. I just hope that everybody has the same enjoyment out of the pool as we did.”

The new-look pool, designed in a “lido” style, has been made more energy-efficient and given a significant facelift through a construction project which started in September 2016 and finished this month.

Prince Charles talks to lifeguards (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Scott, who lives in Stirling but grew up in the Kilmarnock area, hopes the pool will encourage people into the sport.

The swimmer, who is preparing for the World Championships in Budapest in around eight weeks’ time, said: “Without a pool you cannot swim, so for participation with youngsters, the more pools there are the higher participation is going to be, so this getting a massive refurbishment is only going to be a good thing.”

Since Dumfries House in East Ayrshire was saved for the nation in 2007 by a consortium led by the prince, it has provided “heritage-led regeneration” for the local community.


From Belfast Telegraph