Sport

Published: October 11, 2020 | Updated: October 11, 2020

Seagulls launch crowdfunding attempt to stay afloat as chairman prepares to get on his bike

David McWilliam, Chairman, Seagulls Swimming Club: “The current situation is a nightmare.”
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A Christchurch swimming club facing a cash crisis because of a double whammy of the pandemic and council price increases has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help keep it afloat.

David McWilliam, Chairman of Seagulls Swimming Club, is also planning to go the extra mile by cycling to every swimming club in Dorset tomorrow, Saturday, to raise the campaign’s profile.

The keen cyclist will be covering around 150 miles in one day.

He’ll be pedalling to Bournemouth Collegiate School, Littledown, Poole, Wareham, Dorchester, Weymouth, Portland, Bridport, Sherborne and Shaftesbury, ending in Blandford.

The 48-year-old father of two, whose daughters Emily, 15, and Beth, 12, attend the Seagulls, said: “The most of I’ve ever ridden in one day is 130 miles and it will be hard.

“There are some big hills to tackle and a lot of climbing.”

The club has been in existence since 1978 but is facing the worst crisis in its history.

It has around 140 members.

David, who has been Chairman for the last four years, said: “We returned to swimming at the end of July.

“But due to price increases from BCP Council at Two Riversmeet Leisure Centre, and limits on the number of swimmers we can have in the pool at any one time, we are faced with losses of about £3,000 a month.

“We are trying our best to address this but ultimately the club will fold if this continued for, say, another six months.

“We obviously don’t want that to happen.”

The crowdfunding site launched today, Friday, with the aim of raising £7,500 over the next six weeks.

It can be found here.

Sport England will contribute 50 per cent of that figure if the Seagulls reach 25 per cent of their target.

David, who is Partner, Solicitor and Head of Personal Injury & Sports Law at law firm Ellis Jones, said: “Crowdfunding has been successful for other companies and we hope it will be the same for us.

“We’ve had a number of businesses generously providing rewards and we really hope that these will also encourage people to dig deep.

“The current situation is a nightmare.

“We can only have 36 people in the pool at any time and the council put our charges up three per cent in September with another three per cent in April.

“Every club is struggling at the moment, and we’re not alone, but if we don’t do anything then we reckon we can survive about three months at best.”