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80th year at Open Air Pool for octogenarian Bruce

84 year-old Bruce is pictured with his season tickets for the last 20 years, and other memoribilia he has collected over the years.

84 year-old Bruce is pictured with his season tickets for the last 20 years, and other memoribilia he has collected over the years.

Stonehaven’s Open Air Pool will open its gates this Saturday to mark the start of the 80th season of the iconic facility.

But while the last of the paint was drying and the last minute cleaning took place this week, we sat down for a chat with local man, Bruce Whitelaw, who has the rare claim of being present at the pool in 1934, during it’s first summer season.

Mr Whitelaw was four years old in the summer of 1934 when he first visited the pool, during a holiday with his family from their home in Glasgow.

Every since then he has faithfully returned annually, taking his children and grandchildren with him throughout the years.

He remembers that the pool looked slightly different back then, with diving boards and a walkway separating the shallow end from the deep end.

But he adds: “The pool looks better now than it did 80 years ago!”

Mr Whitelaw remembers how the pool showers were commandeered during the Second World War for use by soldiers stationed in the town.

In the late 1940s, the showman ‘Peg Leg Bernard’ - whose specialty was diving into a ‘ring of fire’ lit by paraffin on the surface of the water - was also a pool attraction.

Mr Whitelaw would later meet his wife in Stonehaven, during a dance at the Town Hall, and eventually moved here for good in 1991.

He was invited to open the pool in 1999, and marked the occasion by running over to the slide and opening it with a splash!

His enthusiasm for the pool, for which he has a “great affection,” has rubbed off on his family, and his daughter, Mhairi Robins, is now secretary of the Friends of the Pool - a group of volunteers who work hard to keep the facility in good condition.

Mr Whitelaw said he was looking forward to Saturday, and will be going for a swim as usual.

He added that the pool would not still be going if it wasn’t for the Friends: “If it hadn’t been for Alan Bain, the pool would not have stayed open. They do a fantastic job.”

 

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