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Presidential Jottings: Where has this year gone?

NRSC invitationSomerset ASA President Colin Christmas writes:

Even if you had your shades on (because your future’s so bright, naturally), you still couldn’t miss Norton Radstock Swimming Club’s invitation to their disco and presentation evening on the news page of their website: "... an evening to remember ... for all members, their families and friends...".

It was held on Friday 8 March 2019 and turned out to be all of that, and for me, because I had been invited too, a whole lot more.

Norton Radstock is another of our many small clubs with a big, big footprint in their community, as well as developing a notable share of successful swimmers, coaches and young volunteers. 

Life members include former NRSC swimmer and 2012 Olympian Stacey Bromley (nee Tadd) who attended with her young family. We sat with several other life members and I was pleased to see another friendly face, that of Pat Pusill, 2018 recipient of the Wyvern Plate for the second time. Pat is the only person, I believe, to receive it twice in the 24 years since it was first introduced. Their shared memories of involvement with the club as swimmers, coaches and parents stretched back through many generations. Not for the first time in my year as president their stories and their contributions to swimming in Somerset gave me cause for respect and admiration. And left me wondering what else we can do to ensure that future generations are just as lucky!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for their sincere and warm welcome, for their hospitality, good company and lively conversation throughout the evening.

I include here club secretary Jodi Baker’s recollections of learning to swim in lakes in the USA as a child and for the  platter of egg sandwiches she produced for us. 

Colin Christmas, Stacey Bromley and Paul Myers

Photo: Colin Christmas, Stacey Bromley and Councillor Paul Myers

We were joined by Councillor Paul Myers, Midsomer Norton’s Mayor whose popularity, support and enthusiasm for the club was only too evident as he stepped up to present certificates and medals to many of the young swimmers. Later, in conversation he shared his vision of building an inclusive local community and of the role sport and physical activity is playing in that. I wish I had had time to find out more. The club has for years developed a positive working relationship with the local Council. The benefits of this sort of partnership are well known and unfortunately are not enjoyed everywhere. Not so long ago, I recall, we used to talk a lot about the value of building local partnerships and this was clearly an example of a very successful one. 

Nicky Vause was quick to share the club’s appreciation for the practical and real support they received from the Council. Nicky is Club Chair and an active official at numerous competitions in the County and beyond, not to mention organising Swim England South West Officials for Regional Events. Her enthusiasm and support for swimming is infectious and her contribution at every level is considerable. Talking to her, it occurred to me that the one question you’d never think of asking is ‘Why do you do this?’  I guess it is true for all our volunteers!

Colin Christmas with NRSC members

Building wider links with the local community seems to be in the club’s DNA. They are currently having success in developing a better relationship with the management of the pool at the Midsomer Norton Leisure Centre. It is run by a not for profit charitable trust which takes pride in working together with key partners, including the local authority, Primary Care Trusts, primary schools and other public, private and not-for-profit organisations. They are working with the club to build a pathway from Swimming Lessons into the club. There is a lot of this sort of thing going on it seems in this neck of the woods. 

I was also introduced to Sinead York, whose daughter Sophie featured on our county website almost 18 months ago when she took part in a Backstroke Masterclass at the club led by Paralympian Stephanie Milward. Sophie was amongst many who received cups during the presentation and then enjoyed the disco and activities later. Grateful for the support and encouragement Sophie has enjoyed from the club, Sinead is a huge advocate of improving inclusive opportunities in Somerset swimming clubs and very keen to look at the reasons why it seems there are so few. We had a long conversation. Head Coach Kay Willcox is also our County Disability Liaison Officer and has been instrumental in providing support for Sophie.  

NRSC Presentation Evening

Kay met me when I arrived and worked non-stop on the night to ensure the awards and cups were all ready to be presented. I recalled that the club is part of the Team Bath AS Network. More than fitting then that it was Liam Willcox, County Swimming Committee member and Development Coach with the new Academy programme at Team Bath AS, who joined me in presenting the cups and trophies.

It was a long night for all the right reasons. I enjoyed my visit enormously and once more congratulate not only all the swimmers and their parents, but the committee, coaches and young volunteers on their current success and their continuing support for the club.

Nicky’s last words as I left were “Glad you could come! We’re still here. Alive and Kicking!!” 
Keep the shades handy. I would say that right now the future looks bright.

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