By Phyl McMillan,
MBE (1915 -2003)
On to part two >>
to download all SEVEN parts (193KB PDF
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 - 'whats
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 shouldnt they have a
sport and wasnt 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