The family of a former Sunderland player who inspired an appeal to improve facilities for disabled children have led the launch of a specialist pool.
The call for support for the £1million construction of the hydrotherapy pool was made in memory of the goalkeeper Tim Carter shortly after the SAFC youth academy goalkeeping coach and ex-Hartlepool player died in 2008.
Tim’s wife Gina, daughter Sasha and son Jenson, who has cerebral palsy and is a pupil at Percy Hedley School in North Tyneside, were joined at the school by Sunderland 1973 FA Cup winner Jimmy Montgomery and Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig to officially open the pool.
It will help the charity offer sessions to disabled children and adults with cerebral palsy, a condition Josef also has.
The neurological condition affects movement and coordination, but in warm water restrictions are reduced, giving the chance for exercise, free movement and relaxation.
The pool will also be used to develop water sports and will be a national centre for Halliwick Swimming, a method of teaching disabled children to swim, and to assist the rehabilitation of adults with neurological conditions and injuries.
It’s not just my family that has made this happen, a lot of people have been involved and we are extremely grateful to each and every single person that has supported and raised money.Gina Carter
Gina said: “We are absolutely delighted to open the Percy Hedley Hydrotherapy Pool.
“We are immensely proud of what has been achieved since the appeal began.
“It’s not just my family that has made this happen, a lot of people have been involved and we are extremely grateful to each and every single person that has supported and raised money.
“If you go for a run you have a warm bath to relieve your aches – that feeling is constant for children like Jensen so it is paramount they have access to hydrotherapy.
“I hope many children can benefit from using the pool.”
The construction of the pool was supported by the foundation’s Splash Appeal and is part of a bigger £4million capital appeal that has also seen the construction of a new 26 bed children’s home.
Bradbury View, based next door to the hydrotherapy pool, will provide 52 week residential placements, short breaks and respite provision in a home from home environment for children and their families.
The foundation supports more than 1,000 families each year.
Tim was capped three times with England’s youth squad in 1985 and made his Football League debut for his local team Bristol Rovers aged 18.
He joined Sunderland on Christmas Eve in 1987 and went on to appear for Newport, Carlisle, Bristol City, Birmingham, Hartlepool, Millwall, Blackpool and Oxford. He ended his playing days in 1999 at Halifax.