Swimming Teachers Association hand award to well-known Norwich coach Denise Bale

A Norwich woman has been awarded the Cross of Merit by the Swimming Teachers Association (STA).

Denise Bale, from Hellesdon, who is a co-founder of the Hurricanes Swimming Club, along with Jo Hamilton, was given the good news yesterday.

The swimming club was founded 14 years ago and swim at Hellesdon High and Drayton Junior Schools. The club provides a number of classes from complete beginners through to an advanced level.

It has several teachers and helpers who fulfil the aims of the STA for building safer, healthier and better skilled communities in swimming and water safety.

Mrs Bale, 56, said: 'I'm speechless, I never expected this. It's kind of taken the wind out of my sails really, not really sunk in yet but I've been doing this for as long as I can remember so it's nice.'

The award is one of only two made annually by the STA and Mrs Bale's involvement dates back over 20 years.

She is a former beach lifeguard and club secretary with the Norwich Beach Lifeguard Club and has been a swimming teacher in various roles.

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She has been involved with numerous swimming committees in the area, such as the Norfolk Schools Swimming Teachers, Eastern Region of the Institute of Swimming Teachers and Coaches and the Norwich Penguins Swimming Club.

John Holden, regional organiser of the STA, added: 'With all the STA activity going on in Norwich and throughout the region at the moment, it is satisfying that the honour should come to both Denise and to this city.'