STAFF at Cumnock's community-run leisure centre have welcomed primary school pupils back to the building - for the first time in more than three years.

School swimming lessons at Visions Leisure Centre were put on hold in March 2023 because of Covid, and hadn't resumed until last week - when pupils at the Robert Burns Academy's three feeder primary schools started a six-week block of sessions.

And the centre's manager says the valuable skill of knowing how to swim - and potentially save your life and those of others - has been lost by many children as a result of Covid.

The lessons will build on the pupils' water confidence and techniques while learning an invaluable life skill.

Manager Anne Hendry said: "It's wonderful to welcome the children back. The excitement was electric.

"It’s been a long time since we delivered this swim programme, and it's brilliant to be working with our local schools again. 

"The level of swimming ability has changed, and not for the better, due to the pandemic. The kids we should have taught over the last few years have lost this opportunity, which is unfortunate. 

"Due to budget cuts, central council funding is no longer available to support this programme, so directors at Visions took the decision to heavily reduce costs to give all children the chance to participate.

"Nationally we struggle to recruit lifeguards and swimming instructors. Learning to swim can save a life - your own.

"We hope to develop further partnerships and apply for funding to deliver this project in the future."