THE FRIENDS of Otley Lido have reached their crowdfunding goal with five days to spare.

The group has been fundraising for five weeks to raise the money they need for specialist studies to move their project forward.

On Tuesday with five days still to run they cleared their ‘all or nothing’ target of £53,000 and are now guaranteed their funds will be provided to them.

The campaign was helped by a special visit to the site of the derelict Lido by double Olympic champion triathlete Alistair Brownlee.

Alistair lives in Bramhope and is regularly seen training in and around Otley with his brother, Johnathan.

The Friends said they saw an immediate uptake in donations as a result of his visit.

The remaining days on the Crowdfunder campaign will now add to the target the group has raised and provide some contingencies for the FOoL’s project.

Friends of Otley Lido chair Leonie Sharp said: "We are absolutely delighted and overjoyed at having reached our target. We went into this very nervous because, for us, it really was ‘all or nothing’.

"We have worked tirelessly for 5 years to get us to this point and had a feeling that with everything going on in the last 18 months, we were at just the right moment. The last 18 months have demonstrated how vital our local community is to our townsfolk and having a local swimming pool and community centre really will be a fantastic addition to our town.

"We want to thank all the 800plus supporters and the many, many businesses and organisations who donated goods and services for us to pledge. Each one of them helped us demonstrate to the larger funders that we have the community support.

"It is for that reason we secured the backing of Sports England who pledged £13,500; Otley Town Council who reaffirmed their pledge of £5,000; Otley BID who pledged £5,000 and Otley Chamber of Trade who pledged £1,000.

"Together with their support and the publicity across so many media channels we are well on our way to Making a Big Splash in Otley."

The group launched its appeal in September and warned that it would miss a “historic opportunity” if it failed to reach its target. It unveiled its new ‘Fill The Pool’ Thermometer to launch its campaign.

The launch was backed in person by Baroness (Judith) Blake of Leeds, who is Shadow Spokesperson for Housing, Communities, and Local Government in the House of Lords. Also at the launch to give their backing were Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel and Cllr Richard Hughes, of Otley Town Council. Leeds City Council leader Cllr James Lewis is also supporting the scheme.

The community volunteer group aims to redevelop the derelict baths into a modern, all year-round leisure venue, featuring a 25 to 30 metre heated lido with a retractable roof. Their concept includes a gym, cafe/restaurant, health and well-being facilities, including a new home for the town’s bowls club, and public toilets for visitors to Wharfemeadows Park.

Leonie Sharp, chair of the FoOLs committee, said: “We have been working tirelessly on this project for a number of years and are still ever determined and committed to redevelop our beloved lido into a new all year-round leisure facility. This would be a fantastic benefit to the community residents, young and old and of all abilities promoting year-round health and well-being for their benefit.”

The Friends launched a campaign at and urged the community to get behind it. The “all or nothing campaign” would only take the funds if the target of £53,000 was reached.

Leonie said: “We decided to go for the ‘all or nothing’ approach because we must raise these funds to move the project forward. Sadly, if we fail to reach the target, we can’t see how we can continue with the lido project and will miss this historic opportunity.

“People don’t ask us if it is going to happen, but when. We must fund these essential studies to take our project to planning at Leeds City Council, to demonstrate the sustainability, how we can manage the environmental impact, show that we have financial business viability, minimise the impact on the traffic in the area, protect the ecological environment on the site and surrounding areas and manage the flood risk which is necessary because we back onto one of the fastest rising rivers in the country. Once we have this phase funded, we can progress to planning and then following approval we can approach the larger funding bodies such as Lottery Funding and Sports England and government funding grants.”

Baroness Blake said: “I applaud the work of The Friends of Otley Lido. As shadow spokesperson for housing, communities and local government in the House of Lords, I know our communities need health and well-being facilities like those planned by the Friends. As an Otley resident I know how important this would be to all age groups in our town.”

Mr Sobel said: “As shadow tourism minister I’ve been round the country and seen the boost to both local communities and the economy a lido has brought with visitors flocking for outdoor swimming. We need a facility like this here to provide a leisure amenity for local people and attract new visitors to Otley.”

Cllr Hughes said: “Otley riverside with its boats, park, walks and children’s play area is rightly prized by the town and those around. Bringing back the lido would be a wonderful addition to the amenities.”