New £50,000 Harborough hydrotherapy pod could be installed in the next few months – 30 years after a charity was set up to bankroll it

Everyone Active, which runs Harborough Leisure Centre, insists it is making progress on the “complex process” – an astonishing three decades after the Hippo Appeal was launched in Market Harborough

Friday, 5th November 2021, 4:37 pm
Updated Friday, 5th November 2021, 4:38 pm
Harborough Leisure Centre.

Sports centre bosses in Market Harborough are hoping to install a new £50,000 hydrotherapy pod in the next few months – 30 years after a charity was set up to bankroll it.

Everyone Active, which runs Harborough Leisure Centre on Northampton Road alongside Harborough council, is working with Hippo Appeal trustee Cllr Roger Dunton in a bid to finally set up the hi-tech treatment and rehab unit.

The company insists it is making progress on the “complex process” – an astonishing three decades after the Hippo Appeal was launched in Market Harborough.

Inspirational fundraiser Carole Tilley helped to launch the Hippo Appeal in 1992

But Everyone Active admits that senior managers have had to go back to the Charity Commission to alter and amend their business plan in an attempt to get the blueprint rubberstamped.

Matthew Hopkin, Everyone Active’s contract manager, told the Harborough Mail: “We are continuing to work on plans for a hydrotherapy pod to be installed at Harborough Leisure Centre.

“It is a complex process but a lot of work has gone into the project and we are pleased to say that progress is being made.”

He added: “Everyone Active has made the Charity Commission’s suggested amendments to the business plan and the Hippo Appeal, which holds the charitable money, has made further amendments and is now in the process of sending the plan back to the Charity Commission for approval.

“We hope to provide further positive news on this development in the near future.”

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission, which oversees and regulates charities in the UK, said they are holding in-depth talks with Cllr Dunton as they try to bring the town’s long-running saga to a successful conclusion.

“We recognise the continued concern in Market Harborough that this money should now be put to use.

“We have met with the trustee of the funds as part of our ongoing examination of this matter and have recently received further information from him, which we are currently considering to determine our next steps,” the spokeswoman told the Mail.

“Our intention remains to ensure that the funds raised are used in the local area, in line with the original purposes for which they were raised, as is required under charity law.”

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien is backing inspirational fundraiser Carole Tilley – who helped to launch the Hippo Appeal in 1992 – as they fight to put the good cause’s cash lying in a Market Harborough Building Society account to good use at last.

“It is encouraging that this finally seems to be coming to a conclusion after so many years.

“I’ll be continuing to work closely with the Charity Commission and Carole Tilley until we reach that point,” said Conservative MP Neil.

“This really should not have taken 30 years to come to this point and I’d like to once again like to thank and salute Carole Tilley for all the hard work she has put in on this.

“Initially as a fundraiser, but also since then to help move this forward and ensure that this money is used for the purposes it was raised for.”

Carole, 73, of Bath Street, Market Harborough, said: “I hope and pray every single day that this hydrotherapy pod is installed at our sports centre sooner rather than later.

“I’ll never understand why it will have taken 30 years to get this done and over the line.

“People come up to me in the street all the time and tell me how disgusting it all is.

“Hundreds of good people in Market Harborough and beyond staged so many different challenges and schemes to raise all this money.

“And so many people chipped in with their hard-earned cash as well,” insisted Carole, well known in Market Harborough after supporting local charities for over 50 years.

“A lot of those people have very sadly died since the Hippo Appeal got off the ground.

“We owe it to them all to get this vital hydrotherapy resource up and running and treating people as soon as we can.”