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 became sponsors of the club.
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. They advertised the club over a radio broadcast and held their first sessions with over 20 helpers turning up.
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 today.
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. The social side of the club has always been an important element with annual excursions becoming a part of the club in its early years.
Over the years the club has grown steadily to become what we are today.