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New therapy role for Bettyhill pool


By SPP Reporter

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Staff at the North Coast Leisure Centre. From left to right: Jean Jack, manager, Annie Hall, Laura Maclean, Eilidh Munro, Andrew Henderson, Sam Fisher, Stewart McPhail and Scott Donald.
Staff at the North Coast Leisure Centre. From left to right: Jean Jack, manager, Annie Hall, Laura Maclean, Eilidh Munro, Andrew Henderson, Sam Fisher, Stewart McPhail and Scott Donald.

A MAJOR upgrade at the North Coast Leisure Centre pool at Bettyhill is set to bring relief for those in North Sutherland with painful conditions such as multiple sclerosis and arthiritis.

It means that far north sufferers will have a hydro-therapy facility on their doorstep - cutting out long journeys to the nearest such service in Dingwall.

The improvements - involving state of the art water heating equipment and a hi-tech ultra-violet water purification system - are being made possible through a £24,000 payout from the Caithness and North Sutherland Fund, set up to benefit the area in the wake of the Dounreay nuclear plant decommissioning.

In addition, leisure centre staff will be trained in the latest "Halliwick" system of therapy to maximise the benefits to users.

Patrick Gray, development officer with Tongue and Farr Sports Association, which has launched the scheme, explained the benefits of the improvements.

He said: "It was felt that a hydro-therapy facility was badly needed in the far north and that the Bettyhill pool would be a suitable site.

"The existing heating system at the pool takes several days to produce quite small increases in temperature, but the new equipment means we will be able to bring the water up to hydro-therapy levels overnight.

"Also, the current water purification system involves chlorination, which is laborious compared to the new unltra-violet system, which is also more effective.

"As a result we will be able to offer treatment, with specially trained staff, several days a week.

"Hydro-therapy has been clearly shown to be an effective treatment for many people with mobility problems and we are delighted that it will be available for the first time in this area.

"This will be the only pool north of Grangemouth in the Central Belt using the Halliwick system, which has also shown to be of great benefit in helping those with special needs."

The work at the pool is expected to be carried out in the near future after further support funding is put in place.

The pool upgrade is part of a major push by the centre to improve health and wellbeing in the community.

A programme of community healthy eating and exercise initiatives for all ages is being launched, including a static "smoothie-bike" which produces tasty fruit drinks using pedal power.

Meanwhile, the fund is also ensuring a major showcase for culture and art in the far north with a £5,000 award.

The Melvich Gaelic Choir will join other performers and artists from the area at the International Pan Celtic Festival in County Carlow, Ireland, next April.


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