Leatherhead Leisure Centre played host to a surprise 100th birthday celebration to mark the enduring dedication of a special individual who, since retiring, has been travelling to the Centre to enjoy swimming there for the past 35 years.
Like-minded swimmers and his friends gathered in the café at Leatherhead Leisure Centre on Tuesday 18 February to celebrate Lawrence Bartley’s landmark birthday. Representatives from Mole Valley District Council – owners of the leisure centre – and operators Fusion Lifestyle Ltd were also in attendance to present Lawrence with a 100 free swims certificate as part of the special occasion.
Lawrence began swimming at Leatherhead Leisure Centre three times a week after retiring from work 35 years ago, swimming 32 lengths in 30 minutes. Lawrence still completes over 20 lengths during his 40 minute swim despite, by his own admission, his pace gradually slowing. He puts his longevity down to good genes and the regular physical exercise he undertakes by swimming and walking.
Lawrence’s loyalty to Leatherhead Leisure Centre is even more remarkable given he travels from his home in Cobham. It is not only the swimming facilities that inspires him to return time and again, but the long-lasting friendships he has made during his time spent at the Centre.
Lawrence said: “I am very touched by the kindness of my friends, centre staff and the council for planning this surprise celebration. Leatherhead Leisure Centre has been a big part of my life and I so look forward to my swimming sessions each week. The social side of meeting and chatting with my friends is definitely as important as the physical exercise, especially since losing my wife.”
Councillor David Draper, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure, said: “Lawrence is an inspirational person, whose appearance most certainly belies his age. No one can believe he is a 100 years old. He is a fantastic example of what regular exercise can do to maintain someone’s mobility and wellbeing. It is very clear to see in Lawrence’s case not only the physical, but the social benefits that leisure facilities can have.”
“Dave Clark, Assistant Manager for Fusion at the Centre, said: “Leatherhead Leisure Centre counts itself lucky to have been able to be a part of such a momentous occasion in celebrating the 100th birthday of Lawrence, a long-standing member of 35 years. We are sure we’ll see you for many years to come.”