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Swimming club friendship continues to blossom

Ross, Paul and RoryPaul, a man with learning disabilities we support in Cheltenham, was delighted to be reunited with his former swimming lifeguard Ross, at a surprise lunch just before Christmas.

The pair's friendship began when a Brandon Trust swimming group that Paul attended needed a new lifeguard – and Ross, who is now studying at university, stepped up.

Ross developed a fantastic rapport with the group, some of whom either have no verbal communication, limited communication, are blind and/or deaf. Paul is a very good swimmer, but in social settings can be quite solitary. However, the pair instantly bonded, with complete mutual respect, and swam together each week.

Brandon Trust's Sam Mullaney said: "Ross would encourage Paul and his swimming got better. Paul always enjoyed coming swimming, but looked forward to it even more. This is totally down to Ross and the confidence, respect, and friendship he gave Paul."

Ross had to end his weekly volunteering last summer as he was moving away to university. However, after an emotional final session where he handed over lifeguard duties to fellow student Rory, he has kept in regular touch with Paul through email and postcards.

So in December, Ross arranged to travel up from Monmouth during his break for this lunch get-together. He picked up current lifeguard Rory and they both enjoyed a good catch up with Paul.

Sam explained: "Ross contacted me as he wanted to see Paul for Christmas. I picked Paul up, but kept his lunch date a surprise. Paul was over the moon and had a fab couple of hours with them. It's really a lovely bond between them. Rory our new lifeguard is also simply amazing with him and I can see a lovely friendship blossoming there as well."

Ross said: "I chose the swimming group due to my lifeguarding qualification but soon learnt there was more to it than that. Paul is a great swimmer and a great friend. We would race non-stop for the hour we had in the pool and I knew every Wednesday I would walk away with a smile on my face. Paul's swimming has improved massively and he's getting too fast for me!"

New lifeguard Rory said: "I look forward to swimming with Paul from week to week because the enthusiasm and enjoyment he brings each Wednesday totally rubs off on everyone in and around the pool. Paul's friendly nature has led to our own really close bond that I can see, hopefully, lasting for a long, long time to come."

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