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Crowdfunder campaign to allow families to use Lewis swimming pool on Sundays refunds donors

© GettyA swimming pool
A swimming pool

A bid by families to swim on Sundays on the Sabbatarian stronghold of the Isle of Lewis appears to have been sunk.

Campaigners two years ago raised more than £11,000 from a crowdfunder to open Lewis’s public swimming pool and sports centre for a trial period on Sundays – only to be refused by the Western Isles Council (CNES).

But now Families into Sport for Health (FiSH), who want Sunday access to the Ionad Spors Leodhais (ISL) sports centre on a six-month trial basis, have offered to return donors’ money.

It also invited suggestions for other good causes that could be given any cash not refunded.

It said: “After a lack of interest by CNES in a trial of Sunday hours of ISL, the volunteers at the FiSH committee are offering to refund the donations from contributors.

“Campaigning will continue and the committee is looking for proposals for use of any un-refunded donations that will be used to benefit the health and wellbeing of children in the Western Isles.”

FiSH said the Western Isles has some of the lowest rates of participation in sport and exercise and some of the highest rates of childhood obesity in Scotland as well as high overall body mass index rates.

Council-run leisure centres on Lewis and neighbouring Harris are closed on Sunday, although similar sites elsewhere in the Western Isles are open.

Protesters have in the past accused the council of refusing to open ISL for swimming and other sports because of religious reasons.

The Rev Graeme Craig, minister of Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) Stornoway, said: “A restful, quiet Sunday is a major contributor to the health and wellbeing of the whole community.”

The local authority said its decision not to open the site was for “operational reasons” and not a religious one.