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In the mid-1950s Crewe Baths Superintendent Mr. I. Brodie and his deputy Miss Agnes Buttery wanted to encourage swimming among people with disabilities in Crewe. This became a reality when members of Crewe Baths visited Kingston-upon-Thames in 1955 and met Mr. James McMillan, a consultant engineer, who had devised a method of teaching people with disabilities to swim.
This led to a meeting on 3rd March 1956 at Crewe when Mr. McMillan addressed over 40 interested members of the public, including some of the Crewe Councillors.
At the meeting it was resolved that a swimming club for the physically handicapped be inaugurated to be run on the same lines advocated by Mr. McMillan, who had developed the Halliwick Association of Swimming Therapy Method.
Following this inaugural meeting, Seahorse's first committee meeting was held on 12th April 1956 at Crewe's Municipal Building when the Club officials were elected and the Club rules were resolved.
Members of the Crewe Baths Committee gave Seahorse Swimming Club exclusive swimming rights and sole use of the Flag Lane swimming pool on Thursday evenings. This partnership has continued to the present day, with the Mayor of the Crewe Town Council being the Club President.
Picture - Seahorse volunteers with members of Spartans Swimming Club at Crewe Baths during Seahorse's early days.
The Flag Lane Baths had been opened on the 6th November 1937 by the Mayor of the Borough of Crewe, Alderman F. Bott. The Baths had been designed by Mr Leonard Reeves with the assistance of H. Knowles. The Baths served the town until 2016.
During the late 1950s, Seahorse officials visited Spartans Swimming Club who were based in Kingston-upon-Thames and were shown methods to train swimmers. The first 'Splash Night' was held in 1958 to encourage swimmers to compete against each other. This introduction to competitions prepared the swimmers for the challenges from other clubs and in 1963, Seahorse entered its first Inter Club swimming gala. A new ramp was acquired at the Baths to assist swimmers with access into the pool. In 1966 a celebration gala night was held for the Club’s 10th anniversary. In 1969, several new members joined Seahorse from Homeleigh Children’s Centre.
In the 1970s Seahorse opened a branch of the Club at Nantwich Swimming Pool, and in 1977, the Club celebrated its 21st birthday with a dinner and disco at Saxon Cross Motel, Sandbach. Seahorse continued to compete against similar clubs in the area, which included: Alsager Swans, Aquarius (Sandbach), Winsford Turtles, Chester Terrapins, Shropshire Sharks, (Shrewsbury), Cheslyn Hay Otters (Walsall), Wrexham Dolphins and Aquadis (Wirral). A sponsored swim was held in the late 1970s for the Crewe Lions Club.
Seahorse started the 1980s with a fashion show and jewellery party and various other events to raise funds for the Club. Changing cubicles were modified at the Baths to accommodate wheelchairs, and a new hoist to assist people with disabilities enter the pool was fitted. Rolls Royce Motors was the venue for the 30th anniversary celebrations and in 1987, several Seahorse members attended the Crewe Heritage Centre for a visit of Her Majesty Queens Elizabeth ll. In 1988 the Borough Council awarded a plaque to Seahorse to celebrate the Baths’ 50th anniversary.
Picture - Members of Seahorse displaying their trophies after a competing at a Halliwick Swimming Gala in the 1980s
The Nantwich branch of Seahorse ended in 1991, and in 1992, Seahorse members took part in a sponsored swim for the Special Olympics Appeal. Disabled parking was provided at the Baths following a request from Seahorse in 1994, and in 1996, five volunteers - Beryl Barnes, Ettie Broom, Agnes Buttery, Margaret Platt and Barbara Warrington - were presented with certificates from the Borough Council for their 40 years service at Seahorse. The Club was nominated for a Community Champions award in 1996, and the following year, members raised £931 for the Special Olympics Appeal by taking part in a sponsored swim.
During the Millennium, several instructors attended a Halliwick AST training course and Gwyneth Dunwoody MP praised the work of the volunteers. In 2002, Seahorse was presented with a Mayor’s Oscar from the Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council. A new hoist was fitted at the Baths in 2003, and in 2006, the Club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a disco at LMR Sports and Social Club. During the same year, a sponsored swim by the members raised £422 for the Mayor’s Charity Appeal. In 2009, Edward Timpson MP praised the work of the volunteers during one of his visits.
Seahorse was nominated for Cheshire East Council’s ‘Sports Club of the Year’ award in 2010, and the following year, a sponsored swim raised £1853 for the Newlife Foundation Charity. Seahorse celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a fun gala in 2012, and was nominated during the same year for: The Cat Community Radio ‘Fundraising’ award and Cheshire East Council’s ‘Sports Club of the Year’ award. A sponsored swim raised £630 for Leighton Hospital’s ‘One in Eleven’ Appeal in 2013, and the following year, a sponsored walk by the Club raised £670 for St. Luke’s Hospice. Two months later, a fun gala and disco was held as part of the country-wide ‘Community Games’. During 2015, the Club took part in the Ice Bucket challenge for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and swimmers wore odd socks to raise £240 for the Down Syndrome Awareness Day during the same year. Another ‘Community Games’ swim was held in the summer of 2015 and Michael Roberts became the first volunteer to complete 50 years’ service at Seahorse.
Picture - Success for Seahorse at the Halliwick Regional Swimming Gala in 2014 at Crewe Baths.
In 2016, swimmer Jamie Hinde raised £800 after completing a marathon swim for the Ronald McDonald House Trust. In April during the same year Seahorse relocated to Crewe’s new Lifestyle Centre. This coincided with the Club’s 60th Anniversary, which was marked with a book ‘A Seahorse Tale’ compiled by Seahorse Secretary, Gareth Roberts. The occasion was celebrated with a disco at Willaston Sports and Social Club. In 2017, the Club held a 21 mile swim (length of the English Channel) and raised £825.65 for former Seahorse swimmer Stuart Bloor's Racing Wheelchair Appeal. In June 2017, it was announced that Seahorse was to be presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The presentation of the award was made by the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, Mr David Briggs MBE, on the 7th September 2017 at the Lifestyle Centre.