Swim England

A nation swimming

Jackie Bedford ‘absolutely privileged’ to win Harold Fern Award

Volunteering and school swimming stalwart Jackie Bedford was awarded with the Swim England Harold Fern Award for a lifetime of dedication to swimming.

Her commitment has seen her hold the honour of being a President of her Clubs (Beckenham and Dulwich Dolphins), Kent County, Swim England London Region and the English Schools Swimming Association.

And now she’s ‘honoured’ to join the illustrious list of Harold Fern winners.

She said: “I’m honoured, completely gobsmacked to be honest. It’s an absolute privilege to receive this.

“To be classed as one of those people that have won this award is incredible, especially when I just do what I do because I enjoy it.”

After returning to the world of swimming when she took her first child for swimming lessons at three-months old, Jackie’s devotion to the sport never left from there.

Jackie started to help out at the children’s first club, Beckenham, alongside her work as a swimming teacher in schools throughout her career.

‘I can’t sit still and I like giving back’

She qualified as a poolside official and progressed to becoming a national referee, which took her to world, European and Olympic events.

Alongside her husband, she officiated at the 2012 Olympic Games in London for the swimming legs of the Modern Pentathlon events.

She noted her time at the Games in the region that she supported throughout her life as her most memorable moment.

“Working at the Olympics in London, that was special for us. Both my husband and myself were involved in the swimming events but I’ve been involved in so many things in my life.

“I can’t sit still and I like giving back. I’m passionate about school swimming, I worked in a school for many years and am a part of the English School Swimming Association (ESSA).

“I just like giving people the opportunity to swim. I have a passion and I enjoy it, that’s the reason I’ve stayed involved.

“One of things I’ve always liked about swimming is that I don’t know how many lives I’ve saved because I’ve taught swimming for so long.”

Despite her retirement in 2014, Jackie continues to support the sport. She is currently Vice Chair of Swim England London, Honorary Treasurer and Trustee of the ESSA, Chair of Beckenham Swimming Club and a member of the Swim England Club Leadership Group.

She still has the energy to give back to the sport and the community and looks forward to continuing as long as she is able.

About the Harold Fern Award

The Harold Fern Award is given to the individual or organisation making the most outstanding contribution to aquatics at club, county, regional, national or international level.

In selecting the winner of the award each year, the Board will give consideration to the following:

  • outstanding achievement in advancing the sport through competition/coaching/officiating
  • outstanding achievement in the administration of the sport
  • outstanding achievement in advising the sport.