A SWIMMING coach, who has dedicated more than 30 years to community sport after witnessing a tragic accident as a teenager, is one of three finalists in the BBC’s Unsung Hero Awards.
Charlie Thorn was inspired to teach children to swim after he saw a young boy drown.
He is now a finalist in the BBC South Today regional awards and was involved in filming for the news programme at Overton Primary School on Wednesday, with contributions from those who believe he should win.
The awards recognise people who dedicate time to sport in their community, taking no reward. Mr Thorn, from Woodlands, Overton, was nominated by Amy Mosdell.
The 34-year-old mother-of-two, also from Overton, spent hours as a child at Lordsfield Swimming Club, which was run by Mr Thorn at the village primary school’s outside pool, in Court Drove.
She said: “His passion and energy for the swimming club is truly inspiring. Charlie is the driving force behind this excellent facility which is used by a large proportion of children who live in the village.”
Mr Thorn is also involved in the archery club, has run a holiday play scheme and organises fundraising events. In the 1990s, he raised £22,000 in just nine months towards building new changing rooms for the pool.
Not only has he immersed himself in community sport, he also brought up four children as a single parent.
When Mr Thorn was 15, he and his friends, who were fishing in the River Itchen, were told that a seven-year-old boy who could not swim, had fallen in. Despite pulling him out, the friends were unable to save his life.
It was this incident which inspired Mr Thorn to teach young people to swim.
Now 69, the retired handyman and grandfather-of-four, said he is proud to be a finalist, adding: “It’s nice that they recognise what I do. But I’ve always enjoyed it. I’ve been at the pool for 32 years.”