1966 Malcolm Staight — 5 Comments

  1. I was extremely to sorry to read Malcolm’s report that after suffering a serious illness Derek Spratt had died. I know he did not attend Mayfield but I am sure plenty of Mayfield pupils knew Derek.
    I can go back over 50 years and remember Derek as a larger than life character who, apart from his ability as a swimming coach which Malcolm has already documented, reached a high standard with swimming, diving and water-polo. He became well known and nationally popular in the swimming world.
    Derek was always up to something, although nothing that would cause offence to other people. Derek was one of the few, along with people like Olympian Brian Phelps, who could get enough height off the Ilford minor swimming pool board to hang from the metal rafters. Of course this resulted in problems if the superintendent caught them. There was the camping at Grange Farm in Chigwell, the race with World Champion Bobby McGregor at the national championships, which Derek won although he was attached to a rope. There was, and still is, a race in the river Blackwater when the Ilford recorder wrote, “Derek Spratt started the race but did not finish and was last seen running through Maldon High Street in just his swimming trunks”. I could fill the page with things that happened, Derek was a large part of mine and many others lives.
    Derek also had vision ahead of his time. Before “Speedo” became such a global product, he was selling Speedo Swimwear to competitors all over the country. I do not know the reason but that stopped and he started selling “Stirling Swimwear”, which had an Australian connection, and I know he was in contact with Dawn Fraser. That was real street cred, but for some unknown reason that phased out.
    Later Derek was a major contributor in forming “Champions of the Future”. This involved an open competition for the very young – good for the children and a good fund raiser for the swimming club because not only did mum and dad come to pay to watch, but often they brought along aunts, uncles and grandparents. Derek was also heavily involved in the Motorway League, another competition which was beneficial to both swimmers and clubs.
    There is so much more I could write, but on behalf of myself and everybody who came into contact with Derek – thanks for the memory.

  2. Hi Bernard
    Your tribute to Derek Spratt is wonderful and so fully deserved. I am so pleased to read it. You will be pleased to hear Cyril Laxton’s son, Chris, was also at the funeral and my brother, Paul, sent a tribute from Australia.
    I would also like to thank Bernard for visiting my father in hospital shortly before he died and for attending his funeral in 2003.
    Hope you will get in touch, Mayfield Memories have my email, it would be good to hear from you.

  3. Well, this all brought back memories of those swimming years!
    Also, rememberances of both Bernard and Derek teasing me mercilessly as a teenager and calling my dad “Mr Fixit” when he was president of Essex County swimming.
    I have still to see a diving display that tops the ones that Derek and Ilford Diving Club put on in the 60s. I particularly remember the riding of bicycles off the 10 metre board! (Health and Safety? What’s that?)
    I have recently been in touch with Pat Baines’ husband who contacted me after I cited her as one of my swimming heroes in our local paper.
    Best wishes to you, Malcolm.
    Sue Joiner (1st wife of Chris Laxton – amongst other things)

  4. Hi Sue
    Pleased you have been in contact with Pat, her family lived six doors away from my family in Brian Road. My first memories of going swimming were thanks to her dad, Chick Baines, who was one of only 3 people who had a car in Brian Road. He would pile the car full of kids and take us to ilford swimming pool.
    Earlier this year through the Mayfield Memories site I had a long talk with Pats brother, George, who was without doubt the best all round sportsman in my time at Mayfield. George still lives in the Romford area and has spent his life working in the Markets of East London something he still enjoys.
    Sue, I remember you as more my older brothers age and no doubt you remember him so I will pass on your comments which I am sure he will be interested in.


  5. Thankyou for replying. It’s good to hear about George (“Georgie” as I knew him) as he was one of my first boyfriends and we spent many hours training together (and that is not a euphemism!) We were both butterfly swimmers and he was slightly faster than I was so training with him was good for me.
    Me? Well, I have spent many years teaching geography to the teenagers of Cornwall for my sins. I survived!
    Good wishes to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>