A MORAY MAN praised nationally for his pioneering work introducing Autistic children to surfing on local beaches has been banned from taking classes at a local swimming pool.
Kevin Anderson’s work as an instructor with his ‘Riding High Surf School’ drew praise earlier this year, including backing from the National Autism Society who said his surf lessons for autistic children should be made available to adults.
The former lifeguard at the Moray Leisure Centre was continuing his work with autistic children through the winter at the centre in Elgin – however, he has received a three-month ban from their pool after accusations that he refused to comply with local rules.
His ban came after he had been cautioned about taking autistic children into the deeper half of the pool – however, he insisted this week that despite his complying with that request he received a letter from the pool management banning him.
“I feel like these classes have been hit by a pointless hammer-blow,” Mr Anderson said, adding: “I’m a qualified lifeguard and the classes were risk assessed and carried out safely.
“When I was advised of the rules by the pool, I followed them – this has really upset the kids as well as impacting on my income.”
He added that during the lesson which brought about the ban he had been working with a young person who regularly swims to the deep end of the pool with his parents.
In the summer Mr Anderson worked with the chairman of the Moray branch of the National Autistic Society, Glyn Morris, pioneering surfing classes for autistic children on Lossiemouth’s East Beach.
Mr Morris hit out at the ban, saying it was having “a terrible impact on everyone involved in the classes” as they could not be run without Mr Anderson. He added: “A lot of individuals with autism rely on routine and the sessions were working well. As it is, we’ve cancelled the surf school for the next three months – and we are desparate for Moray Leisure Centre to overturn their ban.”
However, the centre manager Steve Ash insisted that while the last thing they wanted to do was exclude anyone from the pool there were health and safety issues that could not be ignored.
He said: “This decision has been made to prevent a serious accident – and with the greater Moray community in mind it will not be overturned.”