Scores of visitors turned out for a splash in Stonehaven Open Air Pool as it reopened for the first time in two years.
The hugely popular attraction remained empty throughout 2020 due to the pandemic, but volunteers have been hard at work behind the scenes making sure it is better than ever for this season.
Despite the harr around the coast, Stonehaven itself was sunny and warm for the grand reopening on Saturday – with plenty of visitors leaping back into the balmy 29C water.
And, thanks to the efforts of Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Pool group,they also had the chance to speed test the newly installed £50,000 chute.
“Absolute honour to reopen the pool”
Gathering around the entrance of the pool, friends chairman Pete Hill thanked the volunteers for their efforts before Provost Bill Howatson officially declared it reopen and cut the ribbon.
Mr Howatson said: “It was an absolute honour to reopen the pool.
“This has been an excellent example of work between the council and the community, I think the massive effort made by the community has paid off massively.”
While a large portion of the work to reopen the pool was done throughout 2020, the final week proved the toughest for the group.
Kitted out in his finest Hawaiian shirt to mark the occasion and a fortuitous turn in the weather, Mr Hill said: “It has been an absolute killer for us in terms of weather, we have had the worst April in the past 100-years in terms of being cold and wet, with the temperatures we couldn’t do anything.
“Because of that this last week has really been a challenge, with this reopening date in mind we have been painting throughout the week.”
‘The pool is alive again’
Each five-litre can of paint required to spruce up the 50m pool and keep it weather-proof costs around £60 so the group has worked hard to raise funds but are also hugely grateful for donations from the community, including an anonymous one of o£5,000.
Mr Hill added: “We are all just so pleased to be able to have people back at the pool, after all working about 3,000 hours since August of last year and getting the professionals – the pool is alive again, without people it is just a hole in the ground.
“Once the word gets out that we are open again people will come streaming down again.”
Operations manager for Aberdeenshire Life, Tim Stephen revealed he had extra reason to be pleased to see the pool reopen – a long-awaited family reunion.
He added: “It is just fantastic to have something this big in Aberdeenshire, we are proud of all of our facilities but this is something special.
“My mum and dad are coming up in what will be the first time I have seen them in the past 18 months, to take a dip themselves and see the grandchildren.”
Sun, shades and clear blue skies
Among those first in the pool was 29-year-old Kat Awramenko.
She said: “I was born here and have grown up alongside the pool and it is better than ever.
“I have kept my outdoor swimming going by taking dips in lakes here and there but it is just so good to be back in the pool.”
Also enjoying the sun, but waiting for a quieter day to take a plunge in the pool was Stonehaven councillor Wendy Agnew, who added: “I learnt how to swim in this pool and it has taken many forms over the years.
“I remember a time that Miss Stonehaven and comedy shows would be put on at the pool, it will now and always be an asset to the community.
“One that people can come from far and wide to enjoy.”
Before the pandemic, the pool welcomed more than 34,000 people a year who wanted to enjoy a dip.
The same numbers are unobtainable just now due to Covid restrictions, which limit the pool to 40 people at a time. Pre-booking is essential, click here.