A surfing hero has been banned from his local swimming pool amid claims he breached health and safety rules while teaching disabled children.
Kevin Anderson had been taking classes at Moray Leisure Centre when he was cautioned for taking an autistic youngster into the deeper half of the pool.
He insists he complied with a request to restrict classes to the shallow end, but he has now received a letter banning him from the facility in Elgin for three months.
Parents and charity leaders have been left dismayed by the decision, which has affected about 35 children, and have petitioned for the ban to be lifted.
Moray Leisure Centre’s management insisted yesterday that the ban was made for safety reasons and would stay in place.
But Mr Anderson, who worked at the centre for five years as a lifeguard and has undergone extensive training, branded the move a “drastic overreaction”.
He said: “It feels like the classes have been hit by such a pointless hammer blow.
“I’m a qualified lifeguard myself, and the classes were risk assessed and done safely, but when I was advised of the rules I followed them.
“This has impacted my income, and it has really upset these kids.”
Moray Leisure Centre manager, Steve Ash, said: “The last thing we want to do is exclude anybody, but this is about health and safety.
“There have been a couple of instances of health and safety breaches that I feel can’t be ignored.
“This decision has been made to prevent a serious accident, and with the greater Moray community in mind, and it will not be overturned.”
Mr Anderson claimed his understanding was that his pupils were restricted to the shallow end only when the public was also using the pool.
During the lesson which led to the ban he was teaching a youngster who regularly swims to the deep end with his parents.
Chairman of the Moray branch of the National Autistic Society, Glyn Morris, helped pioneer the surfing classes with Mr Anderson earlier this year.
Mr Morris said: “This has had a terrible impact on everyone involved with the classes, as we can’t run them without Mr Anderson.
“A lot of individuals with autism rely on routine and the sessions were working so well.
“As it is, we’ve cancelled the surf school for the next three months.
“We are desperate for the centre to overturn the ban.”