A PEEBLESSHIRE hotel has pulled the plug on swimming lessons, leaving up to 54 children high and dry.

The swimming pool at the Barony Castle Hotel in Eddleston has been used by teacher Carol Jackson for her Sunray Swim School classes for the past four years.

The hotel, owned by the AccorHotels Group, announced it could no longer provide the facility earlier this month, citing financial issues and complaints from guests.

Now Carol, from Cardrona, is launching an appeal in the Peeblesshire News for any alternative venues to come forward and save the day.

Carol said: “I have tried all the local pools, Cardrona, the Hydro and even the Peebles pool. They have all said no.

“I run several small classes, so unless I can find somewhere, then dozens of youngsters across the area will not be able to learn how to swim.”

Barony Castle issued a statement saying: “The reasons for this decision are both financial and operational. The cost of maintaining the pool has increased significantly with both chemical and gas increases recently plus the heating.

“The new investment in the pool plant, some £7,000, has led to us being able to monitor costs more closely and this contributed to the decision.

“Currently the swimming lessons pay just over £2.25 per hour (in total for all the children) to the hotel which is a long way from operational costs. Also the number of sessions has been increased beyond the three sessions, which was never agreed with management. Our spa operation is increasing and unfortunately we have had many complaints from guests (spa, hotel and leisure members) especially those looking to have a quiet, relaxing time.

“This has led to a lot of compensation claims for refunds, additional services and loss of members. The Spa alone supports three members of staff and we do need to look to our employees’ needs.

“It was a very hard decision to make as we have over the last few years made considerable contributions to locals schools and supported the swimming lessons.

“In fact, we spent over £3,000 last year alone supporting local schools with books, pantomime, new garden equipment etc.”

Kerry Thomson – whose son and daughter attend the classes – is one of the many Tweeddale parents affected.

She told us: “Carol is an incredible teacher and I think I speak on behalf of all the parents when I say that children she teaches adore her.

“She has instilled a love of swimming in them which they will have for life.

“Last week she had to tell parents the very sad and upsetting news that the Barony Castle Hotel have decided to cancel her lessons.

“Carol’s classes are small – my children are the only two in their class – and so noise and disturbance is kept to a minimum and the Barony is not an adults-only hotel.

“Parents have written to them expressing their upset but they are not changing their minds.

“The council run classes at Peebles pool, but have long waiting lists and the class sizes are big. My son struggles in large groups and so Carol’s classes were perfect for him –as was the small pool at The Barony.

“I would never have got him in the pool at a council run class – we have tried and his name was on the waiting list for over a year – but with Carol he has thrived and now absolutely adores the water.”

Any venues with a pool who are willing to accommodate Carol’s classes can call her on 07860 456533.