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Electric Eels swimming club receives Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

A club dedicated to teaching people with Down’s Syndrome how to swim has been recognised with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Electric Eels formed 10 years ago to give both children and adults with the condition a chance to take to the water in a safe and friendly environment.

The club, based at Windsor Leisure Centre, started out with just eight swimmers and eight volunteers.

But it now runs classes every Saturday evening for 32 swimmers and 10 synchronised swimmers, with more than 20 volunteers helping out.

Club founder Pauline Walker, 75, said: “My main aim in life is to make people understand that kids with Down’s Syndrome can do almost anything given the opportunity.

“But without the volunteers, none of this would have been possible.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest prize given to volunteer groups across the UK.

An official announcement about the honour was made on June 2, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

A £1000 donation from the Louis Baylis Trust is also helping the club fund a trip-of-a-lifetime as a team of swimmers compete in the Down Syndrome World Swimming Championships in Canada next month.

The Express owner made the donation in December 2017 as part of its commitment to supporting charitable causes in the area.

Burnham resident Pauline, 75, added: “These kids don’t get the same opportunities as mainstream children so even if we don’t do well out there, they still get the experience of mixing with 500 other children with Down’s Syndrome.

“Even if the kids don’t speak the same language, it’s amazing how they still communicate.”

She added: “Without donations from groups like the Louis Baylis Trust, we wouldn’t be able to do anything like this.”

The closing date to apply for the next round of grants from the Louis Baylis Trust is tomorrow (Friday, June 8).

See the Express website for details.

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