FOR more than thirty years a disabled man has helped run weekly swimming sessions for people with learning or physical difficulties.

Robin Ayres, 59, of St John Close, Horsham, started the Sunbeam Swimming Club in 1982 with Norman Garner, whose daughter is disabled.

Mr Ayres said: “We got together and decided the area needed activities for disabled people. There wasn’t a club like this one in Horsham so we set one up.”

Mr Ayres was born with cerebral palsy, which weakened his right hand. He said: “People in wheelchairs can’t get out and about unless there’s someone there to help them. I’m disabled myself but I’m not in a wheelchair so I can help others who are.”

Mr Garner has since had to step down due to poor health but Mr Ayres continues to handle membership as well as sitting on a volunteer committee, which runs the club.

The club offers members the chance to swim socially or receive coaching at the Pavilions in the Park leisure centre.

Mr Ayres said: “It’s a rewarding thing, helping disabled people to enjoy themselves and getting enjoyment out of it myself.”

The club now has a membership of about 30 with ten to 12 swimmers attending each week.

Stuart Cutler, 18, who has high-functioning autism, said: “I have been part of Sunbeam Swimming Club for four years and greatly enjoy the swimming because it is good exercise and the weekly sessions are very sociable and a great way to meet new people.

“I recommend joining if you want to do some casual swimming and have a bit of a chat on a weekly basis. We also have a coach if you want to improve your swimming skills – it’s totally up to you what you do. For me, it has been great.”

Mr Ayres said: “We are trying to get new members so that the club can continue. We’ve been going for a long time and we hope to carry on.”

Sunbeam Swimming Club is at the Pavilions in the Park leisure centre, Horsham, every Friday from 8pm to 9pm.

To join call 01403 253200.