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ASA members celebrate Queen’s 90th Birthday

Members of the ASA have joined with thousands of other organisations to celebrate the Queen’s 90th Birthday.

Held today on The Mall in London, the Patron’s Lunch involved 10,000 people from across the 600 organisations of which the Queen is Patron.

As one of these organisations, the ASA was represented by CEO Adam Paker, President John Bird and volunteers from across all the different sport disciplines.

Adam Paker said: “The Queen has been our Patron since 1953 and has been a phenomenal champion of swimming.

“It was an absolute pleasure to be able to attend the event today and share our thanks and best wishes to Her Majesty as part of her 90th birthday celebrations.”

The Queen thanked everyone for their best wishes, and paid tribute to the thousands of volunteers involved in the Patron’s Organisations.

As well as a parade showcasing the best of British culture and highlighting the valuable and diverse work of the non-profit and voluntary organisations represented, the day saw members of the Royal Family walking along The Mall talking to guests. Prince Harry and Prince William, both of whom are avid swimming supporters, stopped to talk with the ASA group about their love of swimming.

“Prince Harry joked that Prince William was the only water polo player he knew that couldn’t swim, to which William replied “I love swimming”, said Paker.

“It was also good to hear Prince Harry talk about the importance for all children to learn to swim, something that is at the heart of the ASA.”

The Duke of Cambridge talks to swimming volunteers at The Patrons Lunch
The Duke of Cambridge talks to swimming volunteers at The Patrons Lunch

Life-long synchronised swimming champion, Anne Clark, attended the day. She said: “I had a lovely time at the Patron’s Lunch. It was really lovely to be a part of such a special event. It was also great to have the chance to speak to Prince William about his time playing water polo and hear all about his passion for the sport.”

Water polo coach Mike Beard added: “Although we got soaked in the morning the weather didn’t hamper our spirits! It was a real treat to shake hands with William and Harry and I was very pleased to be able to represent the water polo community at such an auspicious event.”

The Queen became Patron of the ASA on 6 March 1953. The announcement was made by the Hon Secretary of the ASA Alderman H E Fern OBE JP, at the opening of the 1953 Council Meeting at Cheltenham.

Records show that Mr Fern said: “The Queen herself is a skilful swimmer, and it is very gratifying that Her Majesty should prove her interest in our activities by consenting, in this year of her Coronation, to grant her Patronage to the Association. It is perhaps fitting that his recognition should be given in the year when we have a Lady President for the first time.”

The Queen learned to swim at the Bath Club and in 1938, passed the examination for the Bronze Award of the Royal Life Saving Society. She later became the first swimmer in the world to obtain the RLSS Junior Resuscitation Badge.

In May 1969 the Queen attended the ASA Centenary Gala at Crystal Palace. The event included a 90 minute programme showcasing a selection of the Association’s activities.

In 2013 the ASA marked the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Patronage with a commemorative display of a range of film footage, pictures and resources detailing the Queen’s support.