The BLDSA President Amanda Bell, all Officers & members send their sincere condolences to Stephen & his family on the passing of his father John, President of the Association in 1993/4 on 15th August 2020.
John was a quiet, kind & generous man who was not a swimmer. His son, Steve started competing as a Junior in 1972 & carried on swimming up to 1999. John & his late wife Mary became stalwarts on the scene of BLDSA swims because he was immensely proud of Steve’s achievements. He travelled the country watching over his son & was, inevitably, drawn into the organisation of the BLDSA.
Joining the committee in 1980, he took on the organising role of championship secretary for the Llyn Tegid (Bala) Championships in 1981. This was a challenging task with three events to run over the space of a weekend, but happy swimmers returned year after year under his wing. Many completed their first challenge in the Lake & all were grateful for the careful planning & organisation by John & his sub-committee who nursed it along for 13 years. Then John took on the running of the Association’s premier championship, Windermere. He continued to ensure the event ran smoothly for a further 11 years. Much laughter & giggling took place in John & Mary’s kitchen as the sub-committee vetted entries, checked submitted boat crew, planned various safety matters &, hardest of all, tried to organise presentations & the after swim ‘do’. Gallons of coffee & tea were consumed, along with ‘delicacies’ organised by Mary. He was great at delegating jobs around the sub-committee, both before & on the day so we were all kept very busy!
In 1993/4, John was installed as President, a fitting mark of the affection & respect in which we all held him. He had an amazing year, enjoyed by both John & Mary, culminating in the 37th Annual dinner held in Kings Lynn which coincided, exactly, with his & Mary’s Ruby Wedding Anniversary. Their whole family were there to support them & a great night was had by all, including a share in their magnificent Ruby Wedding cake.
John had recently retired at that time & he & Mary planned to continue enjoying their involvement in the BLDSA, supporting son Stephen & family in their activities (as Steve reciprocated by commentating at Windermere for his Dad).
John was born & raised in the Doncaster area, eventually settling in Balby. He had spent 11 years in the Rossington Colliery & then was a millwright in Engineering factories in the Doncaster area. After his sad loss of Mary, he moved to live with Stephen in Penwortham where his interest in creating DVDs & films became legendary. Many of us have valued his gifts of dvds about swimming activities (The DVD of the 37th Annual Dinner of the BLDSA which coincided with his Ruby Wedding Anniversary is a treasured memory for me along with his ‘Memories of Johnnie O’Hara’ is another. He also wanted others to enjoy the films he so enjoyed & often a little packet of dvds would drop through the letter box, bringing many hours of pleasure, a lasting gift from John.
We’ll miss his friendship, his quiet commonsense & his dedication to ensuring the sport of long distance swimming continued to grow & develop.
Margaret J Smith