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A nation swimming

Hart Swimming Club ‘utterly thrilled’ to receive Queen’s Award nomination

The extraordinary efforts of an army of volunteers to keep members of a Hampshire-based swimming club engaged during the coronavirus lockdowns has led to a prestigious Queen’s Award nomination.

Spencer Farmer, the chairperson at Hart Swimming Club, said everyone was ‘utterly thrilled’ to find out they were in the running to receive the accolade.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award that can be presented to volunteer-based groups and is the equivalent of an MBE.

Hart SC will find out in June next year if it receives the honour but Spencer said the nomination itself was recognition for everyone who had helped keep the club going during and after lockdown.

He said: “We are utterly thrilled that we have been nominated for a Queen’s Award.

“To be nominated alone is an incredible achievement.

“This nomination is for the 100-plus volunteers that enable Hart Swimming Club to operate on a daily basis; from the volunteer judges and officials, open meet / gala volunteers, the committee with the activities put on during lockdown and recently our army of 75 volunteer Covid officers who have helped our swimmers return to swimming in a safe and structured way.”

Hart SC is also in the running for an Inspire Business Award 2020 in the Small Business of the Year category.

Spencer added: “The committee is absolutely honoured that Hart SC has been recognised for the activities taken to keep the club alive during the Covid lockdown and keep our not-for-profit status whilst ensuring the survival of the swimming club.

“So much work went in to ensure the club has been able to survive and continue to serve the local community in providing a competitive swimming club for future generations of children.

“Thank you again for our nomination and selection as a finalist! Fingers crossed for the 3 December Awards Virtual Ceremony!”

Tony Clark, Hart Swimming Club’s marketing officer, said activities to keep members engaged had included virtual talks with Olympians, competitions, training and exercise sessions plus fundraising for the local community.

He added: “It’s amazing that our lockdown activities with swimmers have been recognised.

“It’s brilliant that our Olympic Speaker Education series of talks we put on for the swimmers were so well received.

Engagement with membership key

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for our swimmers to be able to speak to the likes of Sharron Davies, Duncan Goodhew, James Guy and many more.

“We ran some amazing competitions across the wider community and internally in the club, put on some brilliant exercise routines to keep the kids healthy and raised some much-needed funds for Frimley Park Health Trust as well.

“Not forgetting the efforts given to enable a new Covid-safe operating procedure with Everyone Active to ensure our safe return to the pool.

“We are super grateful to our nominators and we are so so proud of our army of volunteers.

“It’s because of them that we all belong to such a fantastic, family-oriented swimming club and it’s because of them that our swimmers will be able to return to swimming safely once the current lockdown is finished.”

Since pools were closed from 5 November as part of the second national lockdown to help curb the spread of coronavirus, Hart has been staging a range of activities once again for members.

This has included Zoom squad sessions, coach feedback, competitions, Children in Need fundraisers plus a talk delivered by double Olympian and Commonwealth champion Chris Cook.

Coach Darren Buchan said: “As with the first lockdown, the priority of the swimming club is to help maintain the mental and physical health and wellbeing of all our members – children, teenage and adult master swimmers alike.

“Engagement with our membership is key and we hope we can help all our families get through this second lockdown.

“It’s also wonderful that our volunteers have been honoured by being nominated for two fantastic awards.

“They put in so much time and energy – we wouldn’t have a swimming club without them.”