The Pimlico Puffins Swimming Club was founded in September 1981, at about the same time as the Queen Mother Sports Centre opened, by Barry and Paola Meekins. Barry was a member of Westminster East Rotary Club and through this contact a number of other rotary clubs are sponsors of our annual gala.
Attempts had been made for sometime to start a swimming Club in Westminster for people with disabilities and we consider ourselves very fortunate that Barry and Paola had the wealth of experience, the enthusiasm and the tenacity to make it happen.
Westminster City Council were at the time keen to promote their new flagship sports centre and arranged for the club to have exclusive use of the pool between 8.00 pm and 9.00 pm every Monday – an arrangement that still stands
The aim of the club was to provide people with disabilities, living primarily in Westminster, with the opportunity to enjoy the freedom and independence that the water offers. Water is a great leveler. The buoyancy provided means that many people with disabilities gain greater movement and independence in the swimming pool.
One of our first problems, however, back in 1981, was finding a suitable name – everyone had a suggestion to offer but fortunately names such as the Westminster Waterbabies were edged out in favour of Pimlico Puffins.
Over the years the club has grown steadily and now has about 50 members, 30 of whom are swimmers and 20 helpers.