Young swimmers with disabilities will be able to compete in the UK and Guernsey next year thanks to funding from the Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands.
The founder of Swim Easy Jersey, Ken Sheehan, said the donation of £8,189 would make all the difference to the non-profit club which provides a safe swimming environment at no charge for around 50 children and adults with a range of disabilities for whom swimming is more than a sport or hobby.
‘The money from Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands has put us in the comfort zone as now we have the guarantee of being able to fulfil our service to Islanders with disabilities, aged from 15 to 55 without having to worry as to where the money would come for the following year. It has guaranteed our disability swimming for 2014 in representing Jersey at a national level while enabling us to travel to the mainland for the North-West Special Olympic Gala in April, the Southern Gala in the summer, as well as the annual inter-insular competition with Guernsey next year,’ he said.
The team can look forward to repeating their success when they won 18 medals In July at Southern Region Special Olympic Gala, including nine gold.
This year’s inter-insular takes place as Langford between 11 am and 1 pm on Saturday 19 October. Two 20-strong teams will compete over standard 25 and 50 metre races in all strokes, for the Ricky Powell Memorial Trophy. Ricky and her husband, Sandy, were great friends and big supporters of the Swim Easy team, and its work with swimming with disabilities. After the competition, Mr Sheehan said the teams, their families, friends and coaches would be going to Jersey Bowl to all celebrate together before the Guernsey team flies home.
The Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands has donated in excess of £12 million to charities in the Channel Islands, the UK and overseas since its inception in 1985. It is a grant-making trust that decides on and makes donations to charities in both bailiwicks. Its mission is to support and work in partnership with charitable organisations which help people, especially those who are disadvantaged or disabled, to play a fuller role in communities throughout the Channel Islands
The Swim Easy swimming disabilities section was set up by Mr Sheehan and his daughter, Melissa, in 1995. Swim Easy currently offer classes and coaching for mainstream swimmers of all ages as well as two evenings a week for children and adults with different levels of disability such as autism, Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy. Some of the four to eight years old attend mainstream classes where time and space allows.
Mr Sheehan said the emphasis was on learning to, and enjoying, swimming in a non-competitive relaxed and sociable atmosphere, with professionally qualified coaches.
‘There are so many benefits for the children apart from the social side and interaction. They are always so happy and smiling all the times it’s just like one big happy family,’ he said.
The Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands is legally independent of the Lloyds TSB Group and an independent board of trustees determines the policies. The Chairman of the local foundation is Jurat Stephen Jones and the Executive Director is John Hutchins.
Mr Hutchins said: ‘This is a wonderful small charity and we were delighted to have been in a position to provide some sustainability for their 2014 funding.’
The long term commitment that has been put into this charity by Ken Sheehan is unbelievable.