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-- The Halliwick Story: Part One --
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By Phyl McMillan, MBE (1915 -2003)  On to part two >>

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In 1949, Southgate Seals Swimming Club in London promoted a swimming gala for a local charity - ‘The Halliwick School for Crippled Girls’. Six of the girls were invited to attend. Mac, as club coach, organised the gala, and I had the job of looking after the girls.

While discussing the gala on the bus home - no car then! -Mac asked how the girls enjoyed it. My reply was, "The look on their faces told me that too were bored stiff - 'what’s it got to do with me and my life?'", and the other faces said plainly 'If only! if only we could get in there and do that!’"

Mac was quiet for a long while (which did not often happen) and then he said, quite suddenly. "Why not?" We did a lot of thinking and talking during the next week. They were children just like ours, so why shouldn’t they have a sport and wasn’t water an ideal playground? So Mac talked to Matron, who consulted their Honorary Surgeon - two wonderful people, Kathleen Alford and Oliver Vaughan Jackson - who considered and then approved the scheme, although everyone else thought we were quite mad to start it.

Our intention was to integrate the girls with Southgate Seals Juniors, but people were not ready for that in 1950. We were informed that 'cripples' could not swim with 'normal' children!! So we were given a private session at the pool and it was only through a slip-up by the local Authority a few years later that we welcomed 'Normal' children into our club.

But, going back to the first swim! Oliver Vaughan Jackson agreed for 12 girls to start. Each had a differing disability. You name it – we had one! After a wonderful time (for them) splashing around and a promise (from us) that they could come again next week, we went home tired but happy with Mac saying, "We now have to get working a method of teaching, and a method that will be able to be applied to ALL DISABILITIES"

The years 1950-51 saw important developments. It was obvious from week one that the five of us - Mac, George, Pat, Geoff and Phyl - needed to enlist further help; so a rota of cars and drivers was set up, and the Wood Green Trefoil Guild kindly provided helpers in the changing room. This left us free for the water work.

On to part two >>

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Copyright©2002 Halliwick AST
Charity Number 250008
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