Honour for 35 years of service

Christine Munford at last year's anniversary party for the Otters Club
Christine Munford at last year's anniversary party for the Otters Club

A woman who taught generations of people to swim is to be honoured for her services to Leighton-Linslade.

Christine Munford was a housewife with four children in 1979 when she inadvertently became involved in helping to run the local swimming club.

Now, she is due to be presented with the Honorary Burgess of Leighton-Linslade in March, in recognition of her services to the town.

Mrs Munford, 70, said: “I feel very honoured. It was funny because one thing they ask is if you know anyone on the council and when I looked at the list – I knew most of their families through the club!

“I taught school swimming in Leighton Buzzard for 25 years. When I started, I hadn’t been to work in 16 years and suddenly got sucked into it, which made my career in a way.”

Last year marked the 20th birthday of the Otters Club, which Mrs Munford founded at Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre to help disabled people learn to swim.

It was in 1993 while instructing at Tiddenfoot, that Mrs Munford became aware there was nothing to assist disabled people.

Immediately, she set about getting the qualifications in order to provide the necessary services.

She said: “I put an advert in the LBO saying if you are disabled and would like to learn to swim, let me know. Several people came along and came back for more lessons.

“It’s curious in a way, because the best cases are the people who don’t come anymore because they are confident enough to swim in a public swimming pool.”

Mrs Munford still instructs at the Otters Club on Saturdays and believes swimming is a sociable sport for everybody.