Tributes to Grantham Swimarathon founder

Swimarathon founder Basil Blackham with current head Roger Graves.

Swimarathon founder Basil Blackham with current head Roger Graves.

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THE founder of Grantham’s biggest charity event - which has raised half-a-million pounds for local causes - has died.

Basil Blackham, of Manthorpe Road, Grantham, was a well-known and highly respected member of the community who brought the Swimarathon to Grantham some 22 years ago. The annual event raised £45,000 this year alone and is estimated to have raised in excess of £500,000 since it began.

Basil’s daughter, Jane Harris, said: “He was the man who started the Swimarathon. It came about after he attended a similar event in Somerset and brought the idea back to Grantham.

“It is a huge event that has helped a lot of Grantham charities.”

Roger Graves of the Rotary Club of Grantham took over the running of the event from Basil.

He said: “Basil always attended the event throughout its 22-year history and enjoyed the community spirit that has made it such a huge success.

“Always one for wit and humour he will be sadly missed.”

Basil moved to Grantham with his wife Rita in 1963 to work as the overseas manager at Vacu-Lug, a job which allowed him to indulge his love of travel.

He became a valuable part of the town through work with various organisations. He was a former president of Grantham Music Club, former president of Grantham Rotary Club and a school governor with national school and central school.

His work with Rotary Club saw him awarded the Paul Harris award for putting service before self.

Jane said: “We’ve had so many nice cards come through and they all say the same things about his smiling face and him being a true gentleman.

“He was very, very genuine, loyal and had strong principles.”

Basil had two daughters, Jane and Beverley Jones, as well as five grandsons. He was a keen sportsman, enjoying rugby and cricket, as well as playing golf and bowls.

Basil’s wife, Rita, said her husband was a well-respected figure in the Grantham community

She added: “There is a time to come and a time to go, but he lived a wonderful life and a very full life. He was never idle.”

Basil passed away on Saturday, July 2.

Anyone interested in the funeral arrangements is asked to call Robert Holland Funeral Directors on 01476 594422.