Sauna was Colne cancer victim’s ‘lifesaver’

Foulridge resident, Jean Smith, is campaigning against the closure of the sauna facilities within Pendle Leisure Centre.
Foulridge resident, Jean Smith, is campaigning against the closure of the sauna facilities within Pendle Leisure Centre.

A pensioner, who has been struck with cancer three times in the past eight years, has been left “heartbroken” at the closure of a Colne sauna.

Pendle Leisure Centre’s facility was given the axe at the last Pendle Council budget meeting, by every political party.

But the decision was met with disappointment by users, who pulled together to launch a petition.

Now, Jean Smith (71), of Kirkdene Avenue, Foulridge, has said she is keeping her fingers crossed that the Crown Way sauna will be saved.

Mrs Smith uses the facility for social purposes, as well as for her health, after her 35-year-old son Paul died from the rare genetic disorder marfan syndrome. Her husband Barry, who had been suffering with prostate cancer, also died in 2010 following a stroke.

The former weaver, who has been battling with cancer herself since 2005, has used the sauna for as long as she can remember.

She used to attend the leisure centre every Monday night with a group of up to five other pensioners.

The grandma-of-two, who regularly attends Airedale Hospital for blood tests, said: “I was heartbroken when I found out. It would mean a lot if they could save it.

“Sometimes in the cold weather I got cramp, and I would go to the sauna — it’s been my lifesaver.

“When my health is bad, it is the sauna that spurs me on to get better. I dream of being at the baths.

“I call it getting back to real life, because it’s just not life at the hospital.”

Campaigners, who have already presented their petition to Labour leader Ed Miliband, will be attending the next Pendle Council executive meeting to continue their sauna fight.

The group, which includes Manzar Iqbal (46) and Martin Baldwin (57) are convinced that there is a way to keep the facility open — having already saved it from closure three to four years ago. They have already attended district committee meetings in Nelson and Colne.

Speaking at the time of the sauna closure announcement, Mr Iqbal said: “Not only is the facility used for health reasons, but it also serves the holistic needs of the community.”

And Mr Baldwin added: “They should be investing in more facilities, and that would encourage people to use them. It is another nail in the coffin for Pendle Leisure Centre.”

By closing the sauna suite, Pendle Council will save £7,500 per year. Among other ideas, protestors have suggested using money from the Colne and District Committee’s capital programme to pay for refurbishment works.

A spokesman from Pendle Council said: “We have advised the campaigners against the sauna closure that they can present their petition at the next executive meeting on May 16th.”