Campaign growing to name new Ripon swimming pool after Olympic gold medallist Jack Laugher
Today the Ripon Gazette joins readers in launching a campaign to name the city's new swimming pool after our very own OlympicÂ gold medallistÂ Jack Laugher MBE.
Residents are proposing that the pool, or a section of it, is named after him. Other suggestions include inviting Jack to open the pool with a commemorative plaque, or unveiling a bench to honour his extensive achievements in diving and active contributions to Ripon life.
Helen Mackenzie, a PE teacher at Ripon Grammar School who taught Jack, said marking his achievements at the new pool in some way would be the right thing to do. Her mum, Sylvia Grice, worked at Ripon Spa Baths for 44 years and was awarded an MBE for her services to swimming and the community of Ripon - it was Sylvia who taught Jack to swim.
Helen, who travelled to Rio to witness Jack bringing home gold, said: "We have got to remember Jack, his achievements are absolutely massive. We have got to get behind him to give him the recognition he deserves - Jack has always been a Ripon boy, and he is proud to have his roots in the area and in Littlethorpe.
"It just makes complete sense to do this - footballers have stands named after them, and Jack is an Olympic gold medallist which is enormous, he's the best in the world."
Alec Lutton, who set up the Bread of Life foodbank in Ripon, took to social media to propose that a section of the new pool is named after Jack, and told the 'Gazette that it would also be very fitting to name part of it after Sylvia Grice, which Helen and the 'Gazette also wholeheartedly backs.
Mr Lutton said: "I just thought it would be something nice to do, and I thought if we put it out there something might happen. You don't know until you try."
Proud Ripon resident Kenneth Ferguson said: "As a proud Riponian, and a big supporter of Jack and what he has done in his career and his love for Ripon and Littlethorpe, it would be a perfect combination naming the future pool after him.
"It would stand as a legacy for him to inspire the next generation of children who look up to people like Jack as role models on their first swimming strokes, while promoting health, wellbeing and socialising for all."
In August 2016 Ripon Coun Mike Chambers championed the same idea, and with the first steps being taken towards building Ripon's new pool with ground testing under way, momentum is growing to make it happen.
Join the campaign: email [email protected] to share your thoughts.