ONE of the founding father’s of Chard’s swimming pool has called on the townsfolk to pledge more - in the week he turns 97.

Peter Moore was part of a two-man team who came up with the idea for the town’s swimming pool and became the driving force behind the project.

After a successful campaign, he also became the first person to swim in it.

Mr Moore was a teacher in the town at the time and had been an avid swimmer before moving to the area.

Together with the school’s headteacher, Ernest Ashman, they organised fundraisers, called on the town’s tradesmen to help and pushed pupils to donate a penny a week to the cause.

He thinks that if more people were aware of the importance of community in the founding of the pool, more people will come forward to help save it.

“Very few people know how the pool came about. I think most people just think it is Cresta and it was 1610’s, but that is not the case,” he said.

“I came down to Chard in 1949. After college I had been in bomber command. I was one of the lucky 10 per cent to get through two tours of operation.

“I didn’t know where Chard was until I moved down, just that it was in Somerset.

“I was offered the job doing a bit of PE. We were in where Manor Court School is now.”

It was at that school where Peter met headteacher Ernest Ashman, a former mayor of Chard.

Peter added: “Ashman and I got together and said if we could get local people to help, builders to dig the hole for example, we thought we could get it done.

“Ashman wanted a small pool but swimming was my sport of choice, I did a lot up in the North West, so I wanted a long one.

“We came up with the idea to get the children to take part so we got them to all pay a penny a week, and then they would get free swims when it opened.”

It was Chard residents who carried out the manual labour required to build the pool and get it working, although the building and roof didn’t come until several years later.

“Leonard Fisher was a civil engineer and he was a great friend of Ashman’s,” Peter said.

“He dug the hole and Ron Burden spent days crawling through tunnels doing all the wiring.

“Ashman was a former mayor so he called in the fire brigade to come down and use their hoses to fill it up.

“I was the first one to have a swim. Then we kept our promise and all the pupils came in to have a swim.

“I remember having about 40 kids in the pool at one time, which wouldn’t be allowed these days with health and safety.”

Peter said he would be devastated if the pool is demolished next year.

He added: “I will be very sad if it can’t be kept open. I just hope with some publicity people will realise how it started and it will awaken an interest in people - particularly those who helped get it first opened.”