The Kingfishers’ Swimming Group

Bernadette and Keith Pinkard started the Kingfishers swimming group, which was a swimming session for young people with special needs, quite a number of the young people coming over from Haylands Farm.

The Special Olympics was held on the Island in 1986/1987 and the swimming events held at the Westridge Pool, Ryde. Our young people were introduced to competitive swimming and we were introduced to Ron Philips, coach of the Reading Cygnets special needs swimming group, who gave us a lot of valuable advice and encouragement. By this time, Bernadette and Keith had other commitments and the group was run by Shirley Miles, Alex Hawkes, Paul Healey and Keith Amos. We named ourselves ‘The Kingfishers’ and were invited to galas on the mainland, which necessitated overnight stays – very exciting! We were then encouraged to hold our own galas at West Wight when we would invite teams from the mainland to visit us. We had individual medals which were presented by local dignitaries and an overall trophy, invariably won by Reading Cygnets, still run by our friend Ron Philips. During one gala the learner pool was opened by Lady Mountbatten, daughter of the late Lord Mountbatten, and several Kingfishers were introduced to her. Gradually, helpers and leaders move on to other things but Kingfishers continues to thrive, the group now being recreational rather than competitive.

(See also Memories from Alex Hawkes)

Note from Marion Hemmings: Currently the Kingfishers meet every Thursday and swim from 6.00 – 7.00 p.m. There is always a lifeguard, one qualified swimming teacher, three qualified assistants in disabled swimming and four female helpers. All of the helpers are volunteers.

Four young men attend who have a one-to-one male carer. Sometimes they join in with the rest of the group, at other times they organise their own swimming.

Kingfishers have use of the learner pool where non-swimmers go or where Kingfishers go for a quick warm up 10 minutes before the end of the session. They meet in term time only. Kingfishers welcome new members and details can be obtained from the Sports Centre reception.

Lady Mountbatten giving awards to the Kingfishers at the opening of the Learner Pool