Legendary St Albans swimming teacher retiring after more than 30 years

PUBLISHED: 15:52 26 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:52 26 July 2018

Left to right: Vanessa (Val�s daughter), Austin (Val's grandson), Valerie, and Leah (Val's granddaughter).

Left to right: Vanessa (Val�s daughter), Austin (Val's grandson), Valerie, and Leah (Val's granddaughter).


Tributes have been paid to a long-standing swimming teacher who is retiring after decades of service.

Valerie Graham-Clare recieving her presents and cards.Valerie Graham-Clare recieving her presents and cards.

Valerie Graham-Clare taught hundreds of children and adults in St Albans over more than 30 years, first at SwimGym and then at Strokes Ahead Sandringham, both held at Sandringham School in Marshalswick.

Many of her pupils have become qualified swimming teachers or lifeguards themselves, inspired by her lessons.

Valerie’s business partner, Jan Morse, is taking over Strokes Ahead for the future.

Jan said: “She is absolutely brilliant, she’s inspiring and motivational and she always did the same thing so you knew what to expect - which is what you need teaching swimming.

Valerie Graham-Clare with some Strokes Ahead Sandringham pupils.Valerie Graham-Clare with some Strokes Ahead Sandringham pupils.

“She is very fair, one of the fairest people I have ever met. Rather than run a business with high profits everyone got a fair share and it was more of a cooperative and it made people want to work with her.

“She will be missed.”

Jan explained that she became involved in the swim school when Valerie was teaching Jan’s children and asked the mums to help out.

Ex-pupils, teachers and parents clubbed together to give Valerie a leaving card, gardening vouchers, and two planters of magnolias to thank her for the years she dedicated to teaching.

SwimGym is for both children and adults and Strokes Ahead is for adults.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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