Storm Ellen strikes Shirley Pool

If lockdown, Covid -19 and socially distanced changing rooms weren’t enough to cope with, throw in a tropical storm. Storm Ellen swept through Shirley yesterday, upending the recently constructed Pool marquee.

Friendly neighbours Jenny and Francis Gallagher were woken by their dog, Odie, as he heard Storm Ellen pick up the pool marquee and send it crashing around the car park. The Gallaghers’ were quickly up and over the road, dismantling the flying tent. “At one point it was in the road and then on the roof of the pool” said Francis, “Who knows what damage it could have caused”

Luke surveys the wreckage of the outdoor reception area.

Pool boss Luke Perry was relieved that the damage was limited, ” I’m really grateful for such great neighbours, that marquee takes four men to lift and it was flying around like a Millets play tent by all accounts.There is a big juicy bone on its way to Odie”

The marquee had only been up for a week and was being used as a temperature testing area for children coming to swimming lessons. It also provided a dry waiting area for parents.

A rude awakening for Tara the early morning lifeguard

“I think that is the end of the party tent. For years it has been used to host the staff party in the garden with bands like Dead freights and The Black Cat Boppers” said Luke, ” We will have to buy some new gazebos. Not sure about the Christmas party …”

The Storm is the latest blow to the popular Shirley Pool as they struggle to cope with re-opening under the strict Covid restrictions. With limited changing room space, lesson sizes have been reduced to just 4 children per teacher, limiting the number of spaces available.

Originally built in 1974, the pool has survived several recessions and been rebuilt twice. ” It is the only purpose built teaching centre of its kind in the country”, said retiring owner Dave Perry, ” We have survived all sorts of turmoil over the years, a little wind won’t bother us”

The party marquee in happier days.