A new £50,000 hydrotherapy pod is poised to be set up in Market Harborough in the next few months – a remarkable 30 years after the charity bankrolling it was launched.
The special piece of equipment to treat people suffering severe pain such as arthritis should be finally installed at Harborough Leisure Centre on Northampton Road by the autumn, it’s emerged today.
The decisive new breakthrough comes a staggering three decades after the Hippo Appeal got off the ground in Market Harborough back in 1992.
Six trustees appointed by the Charity Commission to manage the campaign are now working with leading leisure facility operator Everyone Active, which runs the town’s sports complex alongside Harborough District Council.
This afternoon Matthew Hopkin, Everyone Active’s contract manager, gave the Harborough Mail a critical new update on one of the longest-running charity sagas anywhere in the country.
Mr Hopkin told us that they are now about to order the new therapy pod using the charity’s funds.
But he warned that the new kit won’t be ready to put in until the autumn due to supply chain hold-ups affecting building, delivering and installing it.
“We are continuing to work on plans for a hydrotherapy pod to be installed at Harborough Leisure Centre and are pleased to say that progress is being made.
“The purchase is due to be made very soon – using funds raised by the Hippo Appeal – but we are advised the build of the pod, delivery and installation will take some time to complete due to supply chain issues,” said Mr Hopkin.
“With that in mind, we hope the pod will be ready for dispatch in the autumn, but will only be able to advise on an accurate date closer to the time.
“We hope to provide further positive news on this development in the future.”
One of the charity’s six new trustees, Carole Tilley, 73, helped to inspire and launch the Hippo Appeal in the early 1990s.
Talking to the Mail today, Carole said: “This is fantastic news.
“I can’t wait to see this hydrotherapy pod up and working at our sports centre in Market Harborough.
“This has taken 30 long years.
“I won’t believe it’s taken that long to get over the line for the rest of my days,” said the much-loved veteran local fundraiser.
“So many of the good people who started the Hippo Appeal and have supported it and helped to raise our £50,000 funds have very sadly died.
“It breaks my heart to think that they won’t be here with the rest of us to see our dream of all those years ago come true.
“But they will be there with us in spirit when this vital piece of equipment is set up at long last,” said Carole, of Bath Street, Market Harborough.
“I want this hydrotherapy pod to help as many people as possible in and around Market Harborough.
“A lot of people suffer chronic pain – like arthritis – all the time.
“It’s so important that we help these poor people by treating them and helping to ease their agony.
“I understand that they’ll need to be referred by their GP to be able to come along and be treated.
“I am just keeping everything crossed now that we have a positive end to this story after almost 31 years because I’ve often feared it would never see the light of day.
“I can’t thank the Harborough Mail and our MP Neil O’Brien enough for getting behind me over the last few years.
“And I’ll be having a big celebration when we actually do get this done,” vowed Carole.
Harborough MP Neil O’Brien told us: “I am delighted that at long last this is so close to materialising - and that the money raised over 30 years ago will finally be used for the benefit of Harborough residents.
“It really should not have taken as long as it has.
“But I would once again like to thank and salute Carol Tilley for her ongoing and determined efforts towards ensuring the funds raised all those years ago are being put to good use,” said the Conservative MP.
“She has campaigned tirelessly on this for the last three decades.
“And the hydrotherapy pod will be a massive testament to her sheer hard work and the generosity of so many people who supported this project 30 years ago,” said Neil.
“I’d also like to thank the Harborough Mail for helping to shine a light on this and keeping residents informed over recent years as to the latest status of the funds and project.”
Cllr Phil King, who leads Harborough council, told the Mail: “I am pleased that at last we appear to be almost there with this.
“It has taken far too many years but I just hope that it will help as many people as possible in Harborough district.”
A Charity Commission spokesman said: “The Commission has now appointed six trustees to manage the charity.
“These trustees are now responsible for ensuring that the charity’s funds are expended for the purposes for which they were raised.”
The Commission, which regulates charities in the UK, has used its powers under section 80(2) of the Charities Act 2011 to act.
in this instance.
“Regulatory advice and guidance has also been provided to the trustees under section 15(2) of the Act to assist them in the discharge of their legal duties,” said the Commission.
“The Commission has now ended its engagement in relation to this issue but we will continue to monitor the trustees’ progress.”