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‘Sacked’ swim coaches want answers
10:00pm Friday 24th January 2014 in News
TWO swimming coaches say they are taking a Bicester club to an employment tribunal over the way they were dismissed.
Craig Pankhurst and his wife Kirsten had been head coaches with Bicester Blue Fins since 2009. They say they were fired in November without notice and have still not been given a reason for their dismissal.
The couple, of Station Road, Ardley, near Bicester, claim BBF, which meets at Bicester Leisure Centre, did not use the correct disciplinary process.
They want to be re-instated and say they are taking the matter to an employment tribunal. A date for this has yet to be set.
BBF told the Oxford Mail it would not go into the “nature of the issues” around the sacking, but said it acted in the best interest of its swimmers.
Mr Pankhurst, 34, said the couple were fired via an email. He explained: “We had no warning, no disciplinary, nothing that led us to believe we were in a precarious position. Still to date we have not been told the reason our contract has been terminated.”
He said there had been “tension” over how extra swimming time was allocated.
But Mr Pankhurst, who won Cherwell District Council’s coach of the year award in 2013, said: “Since November 25, we have been trying to sort things out and tried to meet with the committee but they absolutely refused to meet us.
“If there was something we had done then we would understand it, but we have been given absolutely no information at all.
“We both feel we have been wronged.”
Mr and Mrs Pankhurst, both former international competitive swimmers for Great Britain and South Africa respectively, say they led successful changes at the club which saw its ranking go from 11th to fourth in the county.
They claims their plans for taking their dismissal to a tribunal is backed by the British Swimming Coaches Association.
In a letter sent to club members, Mrs Pankhurst, 37, said she and her husband acted in the interest of the children and there was “no issues surrounding our integrity in any form”.
She said: “Craig and I are still shocked and devastated by our dismissal. We feel betrayed by those we trusted and offended by the manner in which our dismissal has been handled.”
A statement from BBF said the club had stopped using the services of Swimming Unlimited — the couple say this was a logo the couple used on invoices but was not a business name.
It said: “It isn’t appropriate that we go into detail due to the nature of the issues that prompted this action, but we tried and failed to resolve them during a meeting with a representative from Swimming Unlimited, and it was with regret that this was the necessary outcome.
“We have an obligation to act in the best interests of our swimmers, and the members have been kept informed throughout.”
The club said it was “grateful”
for the couple’s help in achieving good results, but was now looking to the future.
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