Swimming Teachers Association under investigation by charity watchdog amid 'concerns' over expenses

'Serious concerns' allegedly linked to its finances and expenses payments have been found

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Britain’s charities watchdog is investigating one of the world’s largest swimming teaching organisations after “serious concerns” allegedly linked to its finances and expenses payments were found.

The UK-based Swimming Teachers Association (STA), which has 8,000 members and an annual income over £2 million, submitted a report last month to the Charity Commission concerning the transfer of some assets to a private company.

The commission subsequently identified concerns with the STA’s governance policy and a proposed internal re-organisation which were deemed to put at risk some of the organisation’s financial assets.

According to the commission’s early examination, the proposed changes inside the STA, allied to a potential new trading deal with a private company, left financial questions unanswered.

The STA , founded in 1932 , is the world’s largest independent swimming and lifesaving teaching organisation. It  enjoys a formal charitable status, with its income generated from swimming education and training. Last year it had 51 staff on its books.

Its training standards have been adopted by 30 countries worldwide. Around a quarter of a million children are awarded their first “learn to swim” badge by the STA each year.


The Charity Commission’s statutory inquiry will look behind alleged “serious concerns” and include an investigation of  the STA’s trustees oversight, its recruitment processes and the remuneration of staff. Issues of appropriate expenses and other financial controls will also form part of the commission’s inquiry.

Last year one STA employee, its chief executive, earned almost £210,000. Another employee was paid £70,000. One trustee was paid £8,500 for contributions to books and swimming manuals during a 12 month period. Seven other trustees were paid over £8,000.

A statement from STA trustees confirmed they had become aware of “serious issues” relating to management of the STA at the end of June 2015.

The trustees said they had acted “decisively and immediately” by notifying the Charity Commission about the potential problems.

The trustees claimed they had support of the organisation’s senior management team and that the STA was continuing to run normally by providing what it called “the highest standards of service and training to members and customers. “

Last month Theo Millward took over as the STA’s chief executive. The position – which carries a salary of over £200,000 – was previously held by his father, Roger Millward.  He had been the organisation’s chief executive for 20 years. He announced his retirement last year.

His son has previously acted as the organisation’s operations director.