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Poole RNLI Visit is Wish Come True for Ex-Olympic Hopeful Yvonne, 106

One of the UK’s oldest people, a former elite swimmer born halfway through the First World War, enjoyed a wish come true when she revisited the RNLI College in Poole, a favourite place for trips with her family and friends.

As well as being Poole’s first national swimming champion, 106-year-old Yvonne Glover was a hydrographer who spent much of her career measuring water depths and checking for hazards in Poole Harbour.

She even has a harbour buoy named after her near Brownsea Island and the Wych Channel, Glover’s Buoy.

Born in Boscombe in 1916, Yvonne used to swim between the ferry and quay when she was a girl.

She was a member of both Bournemouth and Poole swimming clubs and competed at county and national level, becoming a backstroke champion in 1932 and narrowly missing out on a place at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

Now living at Colten Care’s Bourne View care home in Poole, Yvonne expressed a wish to carers that she would love to see the harbour and college once again, so they made it happen for her.

Team member Julie Wathen said: “Yvonne was talking to us about her life experiences and said she would really love to go to the lifeboat college’s first-floor restaurant for coffee and look out over the harbour.

“I thought we could do better than that and asked the RNLI if she could have a personal tour as well.

“They were only too happy to agree and their longest serving volunteer, Tony Scutt, very kindly provided a wonderfully informative two-hour tour.

“Yvonne was delighted. She was able to see the training pool and learn how it can be set to replicate rescues in different conditions such as rough seas and night times.

“She heard how crews are trained to cope with capsized lifeboats and descend into seas from height.

“She said she had never learned so much about it and found it all fascinating.”

After watching footage of a lifeboat launch filmed in rough seas off East Anglia, Yvonne spent time in a training simulator.

Julie said: “She experienced what it must be like to battle through rough seas to a burning ship, following the path of a helicopter, avoiding collisions with smaller vessels and keeping watch for survivors in the water.”

Yvonne then fulfilled her original wish for a coffee upstairs in the college restaurant, looking out over the harbour.

“Tony continued to talk with us and answer our questions,” said Julie. “Yvonne asked where the lifeboat crews came from and recalled a time before the RNLI when local fishermen – and she named some of the fishing families – used to man the lifeboats.

“We compared the training pool to the swimming baths she used to compete in and Yvonne recalled that she also used to swim in the harbour when she was younger, from the ferry to the quay.

“We also watched training exercises being conducted on the jetty below us.”

During her career as a hydrographer, Yvonne worked for three consecutive harbourmasters at Poole. In retirement she continued to visit the RNLI College with family and friends for special occasions such as birthdays.

Julie added: “Yvonne had a beautiful morning courtesy of the RNLI. It was a real pleasure and privilege to help make her wish come true. She is a lovely lady with an amazing sense of adventure who still enjoys being out in the fresh air and loves water.”

Yvonne, who has always lived locally, said: “For me, the most exciting part of the morning was the simulator. It was thrilling. We had a wonderful trip. I’m amazed how the RNLI has grown over the years.”

 

 
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