Devastation at district's loss of Royal British Legion hydrotherapy facility

Lister House's hydrotherapy pool in Ripon will close on May 12.
Lister House's hydrotherapy pool in Ripon will close on May 12.

After almost 20 years of serving Ripon and the wider district, Lister House care home has announced the closure of its hydrotherapy pool on May 12.

The decision has been taken due to a falling demand for the city's Royal British Legion facility, a spokesperson for the charity explained.

The spokesperson said: "In recent years the demand for the hydro pool at Lister House has fallen substantially due to the creation of new personnel recovery centres elsewhere and the loss of out-patient referrals from the NHS, which provided valuable funding.

"Given the reduced numbers of beneficiaries of the Royal British Legion using the pool it is impractical to continue to cover the losses.

"Residents of Lister House who wish to pursue the use of a pool will be offered opportunities to visit the local swimming pool as part of the activities programme. The gym facility and other activities will continue."

Regular visitors to the pool have spoken of their shock and devastation at the closure.

Linda Lawton, 64, has been going to the pool twice a week for four years, after tearing cartilage in her knee. It is a routine that she has come to treasure, and told the Gazette that it has transformed her life, and the lives of many others in the Ripon area.

She said: "This has been such a lifeline for Ripon residents, and beyond, for almost 20 years. I can now play tennis and badminton which I couldn't have done without hydrotherapy, and I am just one person that it has helped. It has made an incredible difference.

"This news really came as a shock to us all. One lady has been going there pretty much since it opened, and she broke down in tears when she heard it is going to close. People were very emotional.

"The pool helps people with back and mobility problems to go about their daily lives, and movement in water makes all the difference.

"They have really opened the service up to the community. Mother and baby groups and other groups use it. When you talk about people in Ripon, lots of people have taken their grandchildren along to those classes. So many people have used it over the years and know about it in the community.

"There is a service at Harrogate hospital, but what about people who can't get over there? The pool has been so convenient and beneficial to not just Ripon, but the surrounding towns and villages.

"With Ripon's army connections, a facility like this for ex-servicemen has been very appropriate.

"Closing it will be such a loss - there must be something that can be done to save it".

Sandra Schofield started using the pool seven years ago after a spinal operation.

She said: "I feel absolutely devastated. When I heard, I just thought, 'right, what will we all do'?

"The pool just keeps me going, and now I can't get over the shock that it's closing. What other facilities have we got for something like this? It's going to be a great loss to our city. It's such a shame.

"It's just a marvellous facility and I wish there was something we could do to keep it from closing."