KENDAL swimming supremo Raymond Watson was presented with Cumbrian swimming’s highest honour when he was awarded the President of Cumbria Amateur Swimming Association Chain of Office.

He was bestowed the honour at the opening ceremony of the 2013 Cumbria Age Groups and County Championships event at Kendal Leisure Centre by retiring president Muriel Moffet.

The award recognises a lifetime achievement and contribution to the Cumbria ASA from Watson, who has served as a delegate for many years for Kendal, Troutbeck Bridge and the Northern Counties swimming clubs.

Watson, originally from Shap, has lived in Kendal since 1959 when he joined the local fire service. He joined Kendal swimming club in 1968 to improve his swimming but was very quickly persuaded by club officials to start coaching youngsters and he has continued through to the present day.

Watson went on to become club secretary and spent the next 15 years in the role, culminating in him being made Honorary Vice President of Kendal A.S.C in recognition of the service which he had given to the club.

After retiring from the fire service in 1995, Watson went on to teach swimming at Kendal Leisure Centre.

In 2000 he joined Troutbeck Bridge A.S.C to coach youngsters and again picked up the office of club secretary which culminated in him being made a life member in recognition of his service to the Troutbeck Bridge swimming club.

“This is a fantastic honour and a real privilege.” said Watson of his presidency.

“This is the culmination of half a lifetime of teaching swimming and it’s the proudest accolade you can receive in Cumbria, so it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Watson is still involved in coaching swimmers today at Troutbeck Bridge and Kendal amateur swimming clubs, and he added that he especially enjoyed introducing youngsters to the sport, helping them develop their skills and watching them become club champions.

In recognition of 40 years of teaching services to the community Watson has already received a Pride of Lakeland Radio award and was invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party which he described as ‘both as an honour and a privilege’.

Watson will represent Cumbria A.S.A over the next year, his duties as president involving promoting the sport.

“This is a well deserved accolade for a very generous and substantial contribution to the sport,” said Julie Johnson, chair of Kendal A.S.C.

“The club is extremely proud to have Raymond actively participating and supporting all club activities, providing such a wealth of experience.”