Spencer memories – 2003

Following the death of Jo Parkins earlier this year, we searched the archives for the report of Jo’s skydiving escapade in France, and below is an extract from the report in the Spencer Newsletter.

Jo Parkins (1932-2020) was a member of the first women’s 280+ team to set the British record for 4×50 medley in 2000 – a record which Spencer teams have held ever since. She swam for Beckenham in the early days of Masters in the 80’s, holding inaugural British records in the 55-59 age group for freestyle and backstroke. She later joined Spencer and competed for us in many local, national and international events in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Jo’s autobiographical account of her school years and evacuation during the war, “Waiting for the Bluebirds: An Evacuee’s Journey Through the Second World War”, was published in 2009 under her maiden name, June Matthews. In her book, there’s an inspirational account of how Jo taught herself to swim one Sunday morning.

Jo Parkins (RIP), her book and Dame Vera Lynn (RIP)

European Masters Championships 26-31 August, 2003 

The Europeans were held in Millau, France. Spencer had 26 swimmers competing this year, the 5th biggest team there.

The competition was held in an outdoor 50m pool and there was also a temporary 50m pool built at the back of the complex for warm-ups. Dave was most impressed by this construction and spent many a happy hour swimming up and down it, working out how they built it and, more importantly, whereabouts in SW London one could be built for Spencer swimmers to train in.

The swimming throughout the week was excellent, and Spencer was right up there with some of the best, there was a great team spirit, always a cheer squad around to support the rest of the team.

Away from the pool, our home for the week was Hotel Des Voyageurs, kindly arranged by Brian and Roma. The hotel was only 5 minutes walk from the pool, but situated on what appeared to be the busiest road in France, a constant stream of traffic even at 3am on a Monday morning, everything from lorries to scooters went by.

Our evening meeting place was quickly established on the first night, a little bar along the road from our hotel with a very enthusiastic and helpful hostess whose English was as good as our French (ie not good) but we still managed to communicate our need for beers with not too much trouble, and a few rather drunken locals sitting at the bar – just our kind of place.

With such a large group it is impossible to report on all that happened, but a few highlights that are worthy of a mention have to be:

Duncan McCreadie getting Dave drunk in a very short space of time on 3 rum punches at the Martinique tent (not sure that the 3 beers consumed beforehand helped).

Ann Hartland inadvertently getting an eyeful of Dave Mace emerging from the shower in his room, and later naming the experience as her highlight of the week.

Jo Parkins winning the paraglide trip that Brian arranged. She was brave enough to do it and we have the photo to prove it. You’ll have to ask her (or someone who remembers!) what she said it was better than.

I’m sure that most of the group would agree that a good week was had by all, some good swimming, a few beers and a lot of laughs, a typical Spencer trip.

Participants: Anne Braam, Irving Dixon, Stefan Gartner, Cathy Hartle, Muriel Hitchcock, Neil Kemp, Roma Kiely, Dave Mace, Finbarr Martin, Greg Orphanides, Jo Parkins, Diane Rochford, Geoff Stokes, Tony Cherrington,  Diane Ford, Ann Hartland, Susan Hill, Caroline Humphrey, Brian Kiely, John Liron, Duncan McCreadie, Michael Nelhams, Ewa Palmer, Andreas Pauli, Mark Salway, Margy Sullivan

Spencer European Champions in 2003 were Susan Hill (30-34), Greg Orphanides, double, (25-29), Duncan McCreadie, double, (55-59), John Liron (55-59)

Original article by Diane Rochford

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