'She never did anything by halves' - Swimming teacher remembered

Kay Starling.

Kay Starling will be missed by the Weir family, her friends, fellow guides, the Great Yarmouth Swimming Club, Norfolk County Council Staff Bowl's Club and the Resident's Association of Catton Court. - Credit: Carol Weir

Tributes have been paid to a Norwich swimming teacher who will be 'sorely missed' after dedicating her life to various clubs and associations.

Kay Starling on holiday.

Kay Starling on holiday. - Credit: Carol Weir

Diane Kay Starling, known to all as Kay, died on March 28.

She was born in 1942 and attended Alderman Swindell Infants School, The Priory School for Girls and the Technical High School in Gorleston.

Learning to swim at the age of six, Miss Starling was an avid member of Great Yarmouth Swimming Club and won many trophies when representing the town in Inter-club galas.

Miss Starling went on to become president of Great Yarmouth Swimming Club in 1978. 


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She was proactive on the Leewarden subcommittee and organised annual exchanges between the Norfolk and the Dutch Swimming Club ZV Orca for 20 years. 

Kay Starling receiving a trophy at Great Yarmouth Swimming Club dinner in December 1955

Kay Starling receiving a trophy at Great Yarmouth Swimming Club dinner in December 1955. - Credit: Carol Weir

Kay taught Norwich children how to swim for many years. 

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She continued to officiate at Norfolk County and other galas as a timekeeper or judge.   

When her mobility became poor, she joined the Norwich Disabled Swimming Club where she again helped with her secretarial skills and swam regularly. 

After the club folded in 2011, Miss Starling continued swimming at Sprowston Adult Education Centre. 

Kay Starling sitting on old ruins.

Kay Starling used to work as a secretary for Grouts Textile Factory in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Carol Weir

Miss Starling was also a guide in the 1950s, as well as leader of The Snowdrop Patrol.

Rose Watson, a fellow girl guide who reunited with Miss Starling after they had both retired, said: "We reminisced a lot about the 22nd Great Yarmouth girl guides.

"Kay had already sent pictures of the guides to Let's Talk magazine in 2004. 

"Before too long, there were pictures and an article in the magazine about our guiding days.

A group photo of the girl guides

Kay Starling, at the centre of the back row, with the 22nd girl guides of Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Carol Weir

"There were several responses, including one from our captain Mrs Norah Mobbs. 

"Kay then organised a reunion lunch at the Burlington Hotel, which Norah attended.

"Kay had been an enthusiastic guide, we did a lot that would not be permitted today, including exceeding company numbers by forty.

"That was Kay, though: she did not like to say no to any girl.  

"Kay had enjoyed being a guide, and an old girl. She never did anything by halves."

Kay organised Girl Guides Reunions for the 22nd Great Yarmouth Company, with the last one in 2019. 

Miss Starling finished off her education at Great Yarmouth Technical College where she studied Commercial Skills.

She then took on an office position at Grouts Textile Factory in Great Yarmouth. 

She was keen on sport and played netball in both the school's and Grout's teams.

She also played hockey in the Great Yarmouth team with her mother, May.

Miss Starling was also a very active and highly regarded member of the Norfolk County Council Staff Bowls Club.

She played in many matches at home and away both in leagues and club competitions.

She was treasurer for this club for 16 years and ladies secretary on two occasions with the last being in 2016.

When the ladies section was formed in 1979 Kay took on the role of secretary and in 1997, she also took on the position of club treasurer.

The current financial position of the club is a testament to her work.  

A spokesperson of the bowls club said: "Kay organised the club dinner and presentation night for many years and even when, having to retire from bowling, continued supporting the club in many ways.  

"She will be sorely missed by us all."

Kay Starling on the bowls green

Kay Starling (middle) on the bowling green. - Credit: Carol Weir

In the late 80s, she moved to Catton Court and used her secretarial skills for the Residents' Association.

She continued promoting social activities for the association, including meals out and games of Scrabble.

Her funeral will be held on Friday, May 14, at 4.15pm at St. Faith's Crematorium by invitation only due to Covid-19 restrictions and the service will be live-streamed for her many friends in England and the Netherlands.

Donations for Norfolk Blood Bikers or Sheringham R.N.L.I to be sent to Gordon Barber Funeral Directors, 317 Aylsham Road, Norwich, NR3 2AB. Telephone 01603 484308. 

- To view all the obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost.

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