A CAMPAIGN has been launched to name Chard’s mooted pool plans after one of the town’s greatest sporting servants.

John Farrant led the town’s swimming coaching at Cresta Swimming Pool for more than two decades.

He even took five local swimmers to national competitions and coached future Commonwealth gold medalist Matthew Clay.

John passed away four years ago this week, on September 5, after a short illness.

He first became involved in swimming due to the interest of his daughter, Gail, and became head coach of the Chard and District Swimming Club for 20 years. He became an official timekeeper, judge, assistant at county championships, and helped with school swimming lessons, too.

In 2006, he picked up an award for outstanding service to the people of Chard. In 2011, John was chosen as the Somerset County Swimming President, and spent time as honourary president of Chard and District Swimming Club.

John’s wife, Pamela, said she was ‘surprised’ when she first heard about the campaign.

She said: “We are delighted John might get some sort of recognition. It would be wonderful even if there was just a plaque.

“Over the years, there would have been hundreds of swimmers he took to local championships.

“There were five swimmers who qualified for national championships, and they went to Leeds, Coventry and Sheffield to compete.”

John’s greatest success was coaching Melbourne Commonwealth gold medallist Matthew Clay, from the age of nine until he went to Bath University.

And what would John’s reaction be to the campaign?

“I think he would probably giggle,” his wife, Pamela, said.

“He would be really touched. He was such a gentle and kind man.”

The campaign has also received the full backing of the Somerset Amateur Swimming Association.

The bid to honour John with the new pool is set to be discussed by Chard Town Council on September 16.

The motion is by Cllr Melissa Whittaker-Mather, who said the idea was brought to her by one of John’s former students, Libby Down.

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She said: “Libby got in touch with me and it prompted me to do some research; I can see there is definitely a case for some recognition.

“Since I announced it, there has been a lot of support. I am just trying to assist a member of the public, really.”

The campaign aims to get South Somerset District Council, responsible for the new pool plans as part of the Chard Regeneration Scheme, to honour John Farrant ‘specifically in the naming of a pool within the Leisure Complex or a notably fitting tribute’.

To support the campaign, members of the public can email the councillor at melissa.whittaker-mather@chard.gov.uk, or attend and speak at public question time at the Town Council Meeting on September 16.

The meeting is set to be held at Chard’s Guildhall, and start at 7.30pm.