Swimming teacher wins Coffs award

WHEN 2011 Coffs Harbour Citizen of the Year Barbara Hogbin paused for a picture for The Coffs Coast Advocate yesterday, one of her former students was the man behind the camera, Rob Wright.

It's not so surprising as Mrs Hogbin and her assistants have taught more than 17,000 Coffs Harbour children and adults to swim during a 30-year career. Swimming has been a large part of life for this energetic mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, teacher, volunteer, sportswoman, mentor and philanthropist, who has been involved in voluntary community service for more than 60 years.

She began to teach swimming in 1961 by helping a brownie guide troop to gain their swimming badges, and it rapidly developed into a passion as she became involved in offering swimming programs for non-swimmers, including children with disabilities.

Once the War Memorial Olympic Pool was built, Barbara became the amateur swimming club's chief instructor and she also trained 45 swimming instructors in the learn-to-swim program.

She also found time to work as a volunteer teaching movement and rhythm to children as well as helping youngsters with learning difficulties.

Last year Mrs Hogbin and her family donated $2.6 million to Coffs Harbour community facilities – $1m towards construction of the Coffs Creek Cycleway; $800,000 towards the acquisition and refurbishment of the new Coffs Harbour Conservatorium, and $750,000 towards the refurbishment of the Coffs Harbour War Memorial Swimming Pool.

Yesterday Barbara Hogbin, who swims every morning in the new indoor heated pool, said it was lovely to see so many elderly people using the new pool.

In her brief award-acceptance speech, Mrs Hogbin said she shared the award with her husband, the late Allen Hogbin, ‘who was always helping'.

“We have had a wonderful life in Coffs Harbour,” Mrs Hogbin said.

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