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Alfred H Turner Award winner Josie Grange was ‘taken aback’ by the news

Nova Centurion Swimming Club chairperson Josie Grange revealed she was ‘taken aback’ after receiving the news that she was the Swim England Alfred H Turner Award winner.

The former Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) president has contributed to the history of aquatics in numerous ways, and winning the prestigious award adds to her memorable moments.

Having been involved in swimming for almost 60 years since joining Nottingham Swimming Club in 1963, Josie is certainly a worthy recipient.

However, she admitted that the news came as a surprise, saying “I hadn’t considered that I would be in line for anything like that, I was a bit taken aback.”

It was clear to see why Josie had been nominated for the award, as she described her current involvement in the sport.

“If they need somebody to do something, I’m there,” she said.

After starting out as a competitive swimmer, Josie headed to Bedford College of PE at 18 and returned at the end of her training to teach at the Ellis Guilford School in Nottingham.

She quickly became involved with the Nottingham Schools Swimming Association and was encouraged to sit on the Nottinghamshire ASA committee and went on to become president.

In 1973, a number of swimmers from different clubs approached the committee and expressed that they would like to train as a team and enter major competitions.

As a result of Josie’s work, this started the formation of Nova Centurion Swimming Club.

On her efforts, Josie said: “Initially it was a training squad, so we didn’t form the club in order to be able to compete until towards the end of the 70’s.

“It’s been really good, our first full time coach was Bill Furness who works at British Swimming now.

“He was with us for quite a long time, which is good because that’s one of the things that helps with these sorts of programmes.

“Since then, Nathan Hilton who is our coach has been there and again, he’s someone else who’s really committed to what he’s doing so that’s really good.

“I’m quite proud about it really, but not for me but for the group of people and for Nottinghamshire in general, swimming wise.”

Helping her along the way was the late Ken Martin, who was also a Nottinghamshire school teacher and a man who Josie followed in the footsteps of.

“Ken Martin was very much part of the Amateur Swimming Association in the 60’s and 70’s. He got me involved in the local schools association and then ultimately in Notts ASA and that’s how I became involved in the administration of swimming,” Josie added.

“Ken’s the name I would like to mention and be remembered.”

Interesting time

As well as her involvement with the Nova Centurion club, Josie helped set up the registration scheme at the ASA.

She said: “I used to work at the ASA and I started the registration squad there which was an interesting one.

“It meant that every swimmer had to be registered with the ASA and have a registration number and their details are kept. It was an interesting time.”

Josie has taken a step back since her days as president, but is still a key figure, covering a variety of roles.

She added: “I’m chairman of Nova Centurion and I’m also the administrator for the county swim squad which means I do some of the admin like checking the fees and that sort of thing.

“I don’t have particular involvement at a high level now, at the moment my involvement is really with Nova and the squad as opposed to any general involvement.

“At county level, I’m not an official but I’ll be there helping out with jobs that need doing.”

Supporting everybody as far as possible

The past 18 months has been hard on all clubs across all sports, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Josie summarised that time, explaining that the coaches at Nova Centurion had been able to secure some outdoor pool time, and explaining her future involvement in aquatics.

She said: “I think everybody understood what the situation was with regard to what we could and couldn’t do.

“It’s been more of a challenge than perhaps we expected, but we’re just in the process of getting them back to training. It’s been a case of supporting everybody as far as possible.

“The intention is to look at how I’m particularly going to start to hand over things to different people, because my age is getting on a bit now.

“And to make sure that I’m still around and able to help those people who might be prepped to take things on.”

  • If Josie’s story has inspired you, visit our volunteering pages to find out how you can get involved and take the first steps on your aquatics volunteering journey.
  • Swim England’s 2021 National Awards are now open for nominations. Head to this page to find out more about these prestigious awards and how to nominate a member of the aquatics community.

About the Alfred H Turner Award

The Alfred H Turner 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.
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