NEIL Montgomery is always keen to publicise the work of Thamesdown Hydrotherapy Pool.

“We rely on people to help us get our name out there,” he said.

“I always say that if somebody reads about us, then even if they don’t have a need for us, I can guarantee they will know at least one person who will. Then they’ll say to that person, ‘Why don’t you go and try it?’

“GPs are fantastic, but if the poor GP gets somebody in front of them who’s not very well and has to figure out how to make them better, sometimes we’re not at the forefront of their mind.

“My logic is to turn it on its head and get the patient to say to the doctor, ‘Do you think hydrotherapy will help me?’

“That’s why I want to get us known a bit better.”

Neil has been in charge at the pool for eight years, having taken over on the retirement of Paul Charlwood, who served for 31 years. Mr Charlwood died last month.

Previously, Neil worked as a lifeguard and gym instructor at the Link Centre.

He has always described the hydrotherapy pool as one of Swindon’s best-kept secrets. Relatively few people know about the facility off Cricklade Road, let alone what it does.

“The difference between a hydrotherapy pool and an ordinary pool is the water temperature. To be a hydrotherapy pool you have to run at 34 degrees, which we do. That’s constant. Ordinary pools, such as municipal pools, run at between 28 and 29 degrees.

“If people who use ordinary pools used our pool it would be too hot for them, while 28 to 29 degrees is perfect.

“If the people who use us went to a municipal pool, then within five or ten minutes they would get cold, because they don’t actually swim. They stand in a position and do some exercises in the water. Some people who come along don’t have a lot of movement but are able to do some floating, but with the small movement they have they would, again, get cold in the lower temperature.

“That’s a huge, huge thing.”

The genesis of the hydrotherapy pool came in the late 1960s, when a group of parents of children with disabilities became dissatisfied with sessions at the small pool in Milton Road Baths. The Victorian building had access issues, and the number of available sessions was limited.

Local businesses and organisations such as the Lions, Round Table and Freemasons have been generous down the years.

Clients include people with disabilities, people recovering from debilitating accidents or health issues, people with learning disabilities.

The atmosphere of the pool is one of inclusivity, with people inspiring and being inspired by one another.

“Some people use wheelchairs all day, and the only time they get out of the chair is when they go to bed, but if they come us for an hour, then for that hour they have a feeling of freedom. They’re not restricted by the chair. They can move in any direction they want, any way they want.

“They can exercise in the same way as anybody else. There may be limitations but they are still exercising.”

Also among the 700 or so people who come through the door during an average week are people in need of pain relief, such as arthritis sufferers.

“The heat increases blood flow, and by increasing blood flow to certain extremities such as the wrists, the ankles and those sorts of areas, where people might not have great blood flow, it takes all the goodness of the blood to those areas.

“Again, that’s a priceless thing.”

The 40th anniversary celebrations include a full year of fundraising events; the next is a curry and quiz night at Swindon Rugby Club on February 22.

“We’ve had 40 years and sometimes things at the pool go wrong. They break and need renewal or repair. That’s where a lot of our money goes.

“It would be nice to have the money ready for when things like that happen.”

Further information can be found at and on 01793 496002.