One of the founders of a swim school has labelled the government’s treatment of it ‘disgusting’ after finding out through social media that it might not be able to continue its work.

Silver Sharks Swim School, which provides swimming lessons to children aged three and above, taught its lessons at Ballakermeen High School’s swimming pool for 10 years but was forced to stop and wait for the conclusion of the swimming pool report by the government.

However, before Christmas, Nicola Quaye, who founded the business with her husband Nigel, discovered through social media that the report was recommending the business not continue at Ballakermeen High School’s swimming pool.

The Knight, Kavanag and Page Report was ordered by Education, Sport and Culture Minister Julie Edge MHK and reviews the island’s regional pools.

It suggests: ‘Given the potential market for learn to swim in the east of the island, and if the government chooses to maximise the opportunities in this area, there is an opportunity for the NSC to develop a learn to swim programme operated from Ballakermeen pool.

‘On this basis we would recommend that the school does not reinstate its hire by Silver Sharks Swim School.’

‘It’s disgusting,’ Mrs Quaye said. ‘They don’t care one bit. We’ve been hanging on for three years because that was our main source of income.

‘I’ve managed to pick up hours at schools but that’s only temporary and part-time.

‘This was in the hope that one day we’d get our business back because it was a very successful business.’

The couple were not contacted directly before the report was published so had no prior knowledge of the business being named or of the recommendations.

Mrs Quaye said that the ordeal began when the NSC pool in Douglas had to undergo maintenance, which forced the government to ‘do up’ Ballakermeen’s pool.

She said: ‘I believe they rushed doing Ballakermeen up so they could offer customers of the NSC somewhere to swim and do lessons.

‘So as they’ve rushed it, they’ve done a botched job and when we got back in the pool after the NSC opened the lining of the pool split because it was done on the cheap.

‘The pool closed at the start of 2019 and then we, of course, had the pandemic. Covid delayed everything but all the way through, never once, have we been told we wouldn’t be back in.

‘I’ve contacted them regularly to make sure that we would be back in that pool and even the school agreed.

‘The pool got fixed and we were ready to get back in, but no, we were told the government was waiting on this report for all the pools so we contacted them to ask when the report was coming out.


‘We’d been waiting three years at this point. We just wanted to know when we were getting our business back.

‘We then find out on Facebook just before Christmas the report has been published, our business is named in it, saying that the advice is not to reinstate us.

‘I assume the government would start its own swimming lessons.’

She added: ‘I emailed the chief minister again and said how disappointed we were to find out in this way and that they could have had the decency to pre-warn us that this might happen.

‘I got an email back from his secretary and it doesn’t appear they’ve even read my email because all it says is that the report will be put forward to Julie Edge. There have been no responses to my queries at all. It’s just not acceptable.’

Before the pandemic, the swim school was teaching around 400 children per week, having started in 2009. It employed seven teachers and a lifeguard.

‘It’s not just us. Others were relying on that wage,’ Mrs Quaye added.

A spokesperson from the Department of Education, Sport and Culture said in response: ‘At this stage the report is a set of recommendations provided to the Isle of Man Government by an external consultant and no decisions have been made as to which recommendations may be implemented in the future.’

The report will be laid before this month’s sitting of Tynwald (January 17) by Education Minister Julie Edge.

At this sitting, she will ask for Tynwald’s approval to transfer the swimming pools into her department’s ownership, to then create regional sports hubs in the north, west and south of the island.

The report will be brought back to Tynwald in October.