Better late than never

It took 50 years, but last month Judy Grinham finally won recognition for the greatest moment of her illustrious swimming career.

Now Judy Roe, she is pictured here at Buckingham Palace last month along with her son, Keith Rowley (who some SJA members may remember from his time working at Alan Pascoe Associates) and daughter Alison Heeks, and the MBE which she had received from the Queen.

Grinham was a surprise winner of the 100 metres backstroke at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. She was the first British woman to win Olympic gold for 32 years and Britain’s first swimming gold medallist since 1924..

She went on become the first person to hold Olympic, European and Commonwealth titles at the same time.

Yet unlike many of today’s sporting heroes and heroines, who seem to be honoured with medals or knighthoods almost from the moment they return from a Games or a tournament, Grinham had to wait for five decades to be recognised in this way.

The Times commented:

“The lack of recognition for one of Britain’s greatest sportswomen had been controversial, particularly as she dedicated her later working life to charitable causes, including being national training officer for Dr Barnardo’s.”

Judy was married for 20 years to long-time SJA member Patrick Rowley.

Her daughter, Alison, canvassed assiduously for many years to see her mother recognised. Alison was particularly grateful for the support she received from SJA members, as well as Simon Clegg of British Olympic Association and Wendy Coles of the Amateur Swimming Association.

SJA member John Goodbody, who writes for The Times, and Judy’s former British swimming team mate, Julie Hoyle – one of three Britons in that 1956 Olympic final – were also prominent in the campaign to get recognition for Judy, who worked for some years for the Daily Express.

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