ZOE Crane, 27, runs Swim- Mania Swim School with mum Jeanne and sister Kristy, 25, while dad Malcolm is a leading light of Thurrock Chess Club.

He was born in Wales, but moved with his parents to Stanford-le-Hope and has lived in Grays for 35 years.

Zoe, who lives in Basildon but is moving back to Grays, holds SwimMania classes at Beacon Hill, in South Ockendon, and in Harold Wood and Upminster.

Q) What are the best things about Thurrock?

A) The people. We’ve met some amazing people through running SwimMania Swim School and dad has also met some lovely people by helping run the chess club. Thurrock is central to the business as it is a good starting point for many places because of the access to the QEII Bridge and the M25.

Q) How do you see the future for Thurrock?

A) It is expanding all the time, so there are jobs around – but that means more traffic on the roads, so the road system needs to be looked at, especially round Grays and the QEII Bridge. It’s also worrying that we might have a lot more traffic on our roads with the new crossing that could come through Thurrock.

Q) What changes have you seen in Thurrock?

A) The first change is Orsett Hospital. Zoe was born there and now all the main hospital services are at Basildon. Orsett Hospital cannot expand now as the land has been sold off, but it would have been nice to have still had a cottage hospital.

Q) What has kept you in the borough so long?

A) Zoe started SwimMania Swim School some three years ago at Beacon Hill School, in South Ockendon, using the private swimming pool.

Since then, we have expanded into the surrounding areas of Upminster and Harold Wood.

Thurrock is a good base to have started because of the various road systems and the ease of advertising (of course in the Thurrock Gazette) – and, to crown it all, to be named Thurrock New Business Award winner of 2014 was the best thing ever!

Q) What involvement have you had within the community?

A) The chess club has been teaching chess to youngsters for many years and has its own junior club. They travel all over the country for matches, but also help within the community. One member goes into schools and teaches the youngsters the benefits and strategy of chess, plus they have lately been fundraising for St Luke’s Hospice. They meet at Stanford-le-Hope on Tuesdays at 7.30pm, in the East Thurrock Community Association, Corringham Road, and on Wednesdays at St Thomas’s Church hall, East Thurrock Road.

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