Tributes paid to popular founder of disabled swimming club

The presentation in memory of Kathy Friend, one of the founders of Pisces Swimming Club. 

The presentation in memory of Kathy Friend, one of the founders of Pisces Swimming Club. - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

Most people look to reduce their amount of physical activity when they reach their 90s, but not Kathy Friend, who became a familiar face through her involvement with a disabled swimming club. 

The mum-of-four was still attending sessions of Pisces Swimming Club for Disabled People at Leiston Leisure Centre up until her death in early January at the age of 96. 

She was one of its founders in 1992 and the club has now grown to have approximately 24 members who attend sessions every Saturday between 4pm and 5pm.

Her involvement began when she took her disabled son Calvin to sessions, but she also became a regular swimmer with the group. 

On Saturday, members of her family, which includes daughter Robbie and sons Jim and Tim, presented the club with a £375 donation in memory of their mother, who was born in nearby Snape and lived in the area throughout her life. 

Members of the Pisces Swimming club presentation in memory of Kathy Friend. 

Members of the Pisces Swimming club presentation in memory of Kathy Friend. - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

Jim said: “She was very well known in the locality and became a very popular person. She was very sociable.

“I think she enjoyed the Pisces club as much for the social interaction as for the swimming. She used to raise money for Cancer Research and was involved with the chapel at Knodishall in retirement.”

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Although she was not particularly disabled herself, she continued to be involved with the club, even after Calvin sadly died.

A visitor looks at photos at the presentation in memory of Kathy Friend. 

A visitor looks at photos at the presentation in memory of Kathy Friend. - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

Having been born in Snape, she spent the last three years of her life living in sheltered accommodation at Swann House in Saxmundham. 

Mr Friend added: “She was always very optimistic and positive and loved meeting people. She would always have time for people. She could talk to anybody.”

Joan Godfrey, treasurer of the swimming club, described Kathy as a "lovely lady" who had been swimming with the club for 30 years.

She added: “She always had time for a chat with anybody that came within her little area of the pool. She was always smiling, always happy.”