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Last splash for the Watersports Library.

I dont enjoy writing a story about something I’ve run coming to an end. It feels counter intuitive
to let people into something involving an element of failure. Even if it is a single element. We’ve
had four seasons where hundreds of people have donated, shared and borrowed watersports
equipment. The responses we have when we announced the closure let me know that we would
be missed. I have become convinced that enabling an experience for someone to enjoy the
water in a different way breathes freedom and opportunity. And we have done that for a
significant number of folk. I have been surprised to learn that sharing physical stuff has
impacted the invisible worlds of access, family dynamics and mental health.

I got a message from someone recently who said “Hi, I’m so sorry to hear you are closing. You
really helped me sooooooo much. I couldn’t get the energy to do anything this year due to ill
health but I wanted to thankyou so so much for everything (insert three heart emoji’s here) You
are very lovely people (blushing smiley face emoji)”.

The reason for closing was simply that the library never did, and as far as I could tell, neverwould, stand on its own feet financially. We set up as a business but had a business model of acharity. We loved getting in our first charitable donations. We grew our skills to be able to bringin larger grants from big trusts. We hired a part time manager for the library and someone tohelp us with events and administration. Work birthed more work, more events, more ideas. Thewind was in our sails. It began to dawn on me though that were we to continue, we wouldalways be at the mercy of the trusts. Our outgoings were always to be bigger that what thelibrary would bring in through rental income and membership fees.

I had enough when we missed a three year pot of national lottery funding earlier this year. Wecould choose to continue this thing as a charity or count it as a success and move along. Ichose the latter. Among other things the library grew a number of relationships which have ledto a gathering we have started to call Ocean Church. We hope to register this soon as a charityin its own right, and after that to become an accredited Baptist church. The assets from thelibrary will transfer over and more importantly, we hope the relationships do too. We can stillshare watersports gear organically when the weather warms again. I’m slowly learning to leaninto the seasons. The winter of one thing might become the crucible of another.

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