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11 October, 2021

First pool lessee honoured

Pittsworth Civic Pool inaugural manager Keith Childs has been honoured for his contribution to the local swimming fraternity and wider community.

Placing a permanent reminder of Keith Childs’ contributions at Pittsworth Civic Pool on Saturday are (from left) Cr Geoff McDonald, Marvyen Whittaker, his widow Val Childs and daughter Kaylene.

Around 20 people attended a small ceremony at the pool on Saturday to unveil a plaque commemorating his service to the community.

TRC Deputy Mayor Cr Geoff McDonald officiated, praising Mr Childs’ service to the nation during World War Two and his service to the Pittsworth community over two decades as pool lessee.

Keith Childs was appointed, from 20 applicants, the first caretaker-manager of the 33-metre Pittsworth pool after its construction by the shire council in 1961. 

He served in that capacity for 22 years, coaching a generation of young swimmers, until his retirement in September 1983, the same year the pool length was increased to 50 metres.

Keith continued his love of the water for four more decades, up to the age of 97, swimming early morning laps in the pool almost every day until March last year when the season closed early due to COVID concerns. 

He swam 80 laps on his 80th birthday in February 2003.

Keith was an inspiration to swimmers young and old. 

Teacher Beth Wheeldon, for example, swam 90 laps in Keith’s honour on his 90th birthday.

The drive to install the plaque came from Keith’s first swim pupil, Marvyen Whittaker, who followed in the wake of his coach and mentor, becoming Pittsworth pool lessee from 1992 to 2012.

Mr Whittaker spoke fondly of Keith’s sense of humour and love of swimming at the unveiling, where Keith’s wife Val was guest of honour, along with their daughter Kaylene and partner Paul from Coolum.

The celebration of Keith’s career and character continued with luncheon  at Rusty’s restaurant at the Motor Inn.

Keith Childs died on 4th May 2020, the district’s last surviving World War Two veteran.

Seventeen months ago, the COVID pandemic prevented a public funeral so Saturday’s ceremony went some way to compensate for that lack and to ensure the Childs legacy is remembered for years to come.

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