Gill Wright Award

Northern Wave swimmers will probably best remember Gill as a keen fellow swimmer or as our inspirational teacher and coach. Whilst she loved swimming there was far more to Gill…

Gill Wright

Pictured here, with a backdrop of Edwardian Art Deco tiles, Gill spent the last 25 years of her life campaigning to bring the Victoria Baths back into public use. She was at the vanguard of the campaign which helped Victoria Baths win the £3.5 million prize in the 2003 BBC series; Restoration

She also founded the Historic Pools of Britain campaign. She had an encyclopedic knowledge of the UK’s watery heritage, and no one was as committed to protecting and restoring it for future generations.

In addition to coaching for Northern Wave, she taught thousands of children to swim at Manchester Splash.

Gill adopted the expression “Every child a swimmer, every swimmer a lifesaver,” a quote attributed to her friend Sunny Lowry, the long-distance swimmer who learned to swim at Victoria Baths.

Born in Liverpool, the third daughter of Cleo (nee Milward) and John Wright. She studied chemistry at Leicester University and she went on to work on the Wirral for Shell UK. Gill then changed careers to become a welfare rights adviser at Warrington Law Centre, before moving to join the South Manchester Community Law Centre in the early 1990s.

After a seizure in March 2020, Gill was diagnosed with a brain tumour and spent the rest of the year in and out of hospital. In January 2021 doctors advised she stop treatment and her daughter Sarah, a paramedic, moved back home to look after her. Gill passed away on 3 March 2021.

In honour of Gill, the club has instigated an annual award in her name. The Gill Wright Award will be presented at the annual Christmas Party. Each year we will seek nominations for this award from club members. It should go to someone from the club who has made a significant contribution towards the club or who has significantly improved their swimming or overcome challenges in the year.

Gill Wright, swimmer, teacher and coach. 29 Jan 1959 - 3 Mar 2021

2022 recipient Barry Cox

This year the Gill Wright award goes to Barry Cox (pictured standing left) who, after 18 years of slogging up and down the pool, finally gets the recognition he deserves.

The club felt he deserved the award not just as a long-standing member, but because of the encouragement given to new members both in the pool and socially.

In 2022 Barry was able to take up swimming with Northern Wave again after overcoming some health issues. His welcome return has seen him help reunite members, engaging with and involving new recruits, getting them to the post-swim social in the pub and re-establishing the community feel of the club. His ability to engage with people, and tell a good story, make him a great advocate for the club.

In his own words, he has “been enthusiastic to encourage new young fast swimmers to get moving and improve their stamina. This has paid off because they have progressed with confidence and more importantly, moved up a lane - so peace has returned to Lane 2.”

Barry is a constant, he embraces the essence that our club is a place for people to improve their swimming, a group united by their common interest, and a great group of friends too.

Without him, the club would be a poorer place.

2021 recipient Jess Nichols

Jess (pictured centre) is the first recipient of the award. A key member of the club for many years. Regularly attending the Wednesday swim, volunteering at the door and welcoming new members. Many of us have fond memories of her from our first swim.

Jess has a true passion for Northern Wave and has helped hold the club together during the trickier moments over the past 18 months. Taking a leading role in putting together the club COVID policy, helping to get us back swimming safely and at times she has dropped everything to support the club, often after a hectic day working for the NHS.

Jess will go out of the way to be there for others, an example of which is the support offered to Gill and Sarah during Gill’s illness, dropping by with food, lending a sympathetic ear and offering advice.

Whilst waiting to get back swimming with the club Jess has developed a new passion for open water swimming becoming a regular at Sale Water Park. This led to being part of the team representing NWSC at the open water Swimathon earlier this year. The work Jess has done over the last 18 months elevates our club to be the special something we are all fond of.