BYRON FESTIVAL: Swimming snub fails to sink spirit

SUPER SWIMMERS! -- Jessica Croft and Molly Hill, two girls who took part in the Hellespont Swim Challenge at the Hucknall Leisure Centre pool -- DISPIC NHUD12-1430-1

SUPER SWIMMERS! -- Jessica Croft and Molly Hill, two girls who took part in the Hellespont Swim Challenge at the Hucknall Leisure Centre pool -- DISPIC NHUD12-1430-1

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HUCKNALL’S 2012 International Byron Festival has been hailed a success so far — despite a hugely disappointing response to two special swimming events.

Only TWO people entered for a sponsored swim in the Hucknall Leisure Centre pool in aid of Help For Heroes, the charity which supports wounded British service personnel.

Then, the following day, a mere FOUR people turned up for a Hellespont Swim Challenge, also in the leisure centre pool.

The aim of this event was to emulate Byron’s achievement of 1810 in swimming two miles across the Hellespont, a narrow stretch of water in Turkey, otherwise known as the Dardanelles.

However, attendances at other festival events held during the past week were described as “very encouraging” by Ken Purslow, chairman of the festival’s organising committee.

The duo who tackled Saturday’s swim were grandchildren of Mr Purslow — seven-year-old Evan Purslow and six-year-old Poppy Purslow.

In the Hellespont Swim, Jim Spray (67), a member of the festival committee, completed the two miles — a total of 128 lengths of the pool — in the creditable time of two hours.

Also taking part was Hayley Goodwin, who attends Holgate Comprehensive School, Hucknall. She covered the distance in a remarkable 53 minutes.

The other participants were two girls who completed a mile each. They were Molly Hill, of Hucknall, and Jessica Croft, who lives in Bulwell.

The festival committee was left baffled by the demoralising public cold shoulder to the swims, which had been well publicised in the Dispatch and by means of leaflets and posters.

Mr Purslow said the events provided an ideal opportunity to raise money for a worthy charity while taking on personal challenges and improving fitness.

He replied to comments made by some people that support for the festival had been hit by a clash with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

“The extended Bank Holiday offered extra leisure time for people to enjoy both the Jubilee and the festival,” said Mr Purslow.

“This view has been borne out by sizeable attendances at other festival events.”

The committee is keen to make the Hellespont Swim an annual event, with the hope that Dispatch district swimming clubs will be prominently involved at future festivals.

CHILDREN were given the freedom of the main hall for a fun day at Hucknall Leisure Centre as a feature of the Byron Festival.

After a slow start, the large space was thronged with youngsters who enjoyed a bouncy castle, rides in toy cars and on trikes, and playing with a large ball.

Many of the children and their parents later sat with rapt attention for a Family Storytelling Session in an adjoining room.

The narrators included John Baird, Gloria Morgan, Fiona Linday and Phillip Baker, after which a creative writing session for children was led by Julie Malone.