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Innovative Poolpods project takes London Marathon grants past £50 million

07 April 2014

Groundbreaking facilities for disabled swimmers were among the 59 sporting projects awarded grants worth more than £3.6 million by the London Marathon Charitable Trust this year, helping to take the total allocated by the charity to more than £50 million since it was set up in 1981.

The Trust, whose Patron is Prince Harry, awards grants from the surplus made by the London Marathon organisation each year to help build, preserve, refurbish and purchase sports and recreation facilities in areas where the London Marathon stages events. It has aided more than 1,000 projects so far in its 33-year history.

Among the projects it has funded over the years are:

  • an ecology-themed community hub and play space in the north of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
  • the world’s first compact athletics facility at Stoke Newington School in Hackney
  • refurbishment of the Earlsfield sports ground in Wandsworth, home to two historic London sports clubs
  • redevelopment of Hackney Marshes, the ‘home of grassroots football’ in east London, including new pavilions and changing facilities
  • re-orientation of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic stadia for community use, venues such as the Olympic Velodrome, recently opened to the public in the Olympic Park.


This year projects in 25 boroughs and counties received grants of between £7,085 and £150,000 from the surplus made in 2013, while the Trust put another £750,000 into the London Marathon Playing Fields scheme, a fund set up to ensure money is available to save sports fields threatened by developers. The scheme has helped to save seven playing fields so far.

Among the facilities purchased with funds from by the Charitable Trust this year were two Poolpods at the London 2012 Aquatic Centre. The Trust awarded £30,000 to the London Legacy Development Corporation as part of its commitment to supporting community legacy facilities following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Poolpods are submersible mobile platforms designed to give disabled, less mobile or pregnant swimmers independent access to the pool, removing the need for a hoist or swing. The innovative system enables less mobile people to remain standing as they enter the water, while a submersible wheelchair allows users to transfer from their own chair in the privacy of the changing room.

The unique Poolpod design was the result of an international competition in which three shortlisted companies were funded by the London Marathon Charitable Trust to develop their ideas. The winning design received £280,000 from the Trust in 2012 to create a prototype which was successfully tested at Mile End Leisure Centre, close to the Olympic Park in east London.

British Swimming has now bought seven Poolpods for use across Britain while the Trust also provided funds for Poolpods at Clapham Leisure Centre in Lambeth and the Botwell Green pool in Hillingdon.

John Bryant, chairman of The London Marathon Charitable Trust, said: “Swimming is one of the best ways of keeping active and it is wonderful to have been able to play a part in the creation of a product that will open up access to pools for people with a range of requirements.

“The Poolpod is a fantastic piece of British-designed kit that will be seen as a natural option for leisure centres up and down the country. The Trust is delighted to be able to fund Poolpods for swimmers to use at the London 2012 Aquatics Centre, and for other locations around the capital.

“This is an important part of our commitment to seeing the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy come to fruition.”

Karen West, Head of Sport and Health, London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “This brilliant Poolpod is part of our commitment to deliver a lasting legacy from the London Paralympic Games. Using the power of the Games, we worked with the operators of the London Aquatics Centre to challenge companies to design a better, more independent way of getting people into the water. Sport is for everyone and we are very proud that the London Aquatics Centre will be one of the first swimming pools to be truly accessible to older and disabled people.”

Among the other grants awarded by LMCT this year were:

  • three of £150,000 for outdoor sports pitches: at the Sobell Leisure Centre in Islington; at Enfield Grammar school; and at Ashton Playing Fields in Redbridge.
  • £125,000 to Ealing Cricket Club to resurrect a cricket field at Popefield
  • £96,244 to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham for a parkour, gym and ballcourt space at Fulham Court and Barclay Close
  • £100,000 to Silverstone Racers Junior Football Club to buy land for sports fields in Northampton
  • £62,500 to the Circus Space in Hackney for a new semi-sprung floor and stair lift.


Numerous smaller grants were also made, including:

  • £10,000 for a wet room and disabled changing facilities at the Training Ship Broadsword in Barnet
  • £12,000 for two changing rooms at Guildford City Youth Project
  • £7,085 to refurbish a play structure at the Challengers scheme in Surrey, one of 10 projects in the county to receive funding following the London Marathon’s involvement in the 2013 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey cycling festival.


A full list of all the LMCT grants awarded from the surplus made the London Marathon Limited in 2013 is available on request from the London Marathon press office.