North Walsham Victory Swim and Fitness Centre hero remembered at tree planting ceremony

The memory of a much-loved North Walsham community figure credited with helping bring a swimming pool and sports centre to the town was marked with a special service this weekend.

Friends and family gathered together on Saturday morning to celebrate the life and birthday of Ellen Grover, who died last October aged 79 and was the driving force behind the creation of the Victory Swim and Fitness Centre.

It was just outside the building and following a �1300 fundraising effort in her name that a rowan tree- the late town councillor's favourite- was planted, and new furniture installed inside.

Marion Lane, secretary of North Walsham in Bloom, led the fundraising and said that the 11am ceremony brought those who knew and loved Mrs Grover together.

'It was an absolutely wonderful morning. She spent 10 years raising money for the pool and on the day it was great to see friends and those connected to her come together on her birthday,' she said.

As well as councillor, Mrs Grover chaired the town's pool committee in the final stages of a two decade campaign that led to the �4m pool opening in 2003.

She was also a former mayor, twice chairman of North Walsham in Bloom and member of the town's twinning association with Friesenried in Germany.And on Saturday her son John was joined by 55 others outside the pool as he helped plant the tree accompanied by a plaque marking her life, matched by another on the centre's wall by the door.

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In a speech at the ceremony, town councillor Peter Moore praised Mrs Grover for her efforts, and said: 'Ellen was the most determined of us all, and she chaired the town's Pool Committee when we were finally successful.

'Lots of people, including some at the District Council, have said to me that without Ellen this pool would not have been built and we must be eternally grateful for her persistent efforts to achieve this facility, which I am told she never used.'

Those present then made their way into the centre, where some of the money raised had gone towards settees, chairs and coffee tables, and on to enjoy biscuits and coffee in the committee room, renamed the Ellen Grover Room in her honour.

Mrs Lane said that the rest of the money raised would go towards The Cats' Protection Group. She added: 'It was important to do something like this because Ellen was a big person in the town, and it was obvious talking about it to others that it was the only place that would be suitable, and the one place that everyone associates with her.

'It was wonderful to walk into the centre and see the furniture being used, and the whole thing couldn't have gone better. We were so pleased everyone who wanted to come could come and it was a real celebration of her.'

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