At the end of December, we received the sad news that Margaret Tuppen MBE, club president and life member had died.
The funeral is to be held at midday 26th January 2023 at St Wulfran’s Church, Ovingdean. Dress code: club colours.
If you’d like to send flowers (or alternatively Margaret’s family have suggested donations could be made to Brighton Swimming Club) please contact the undertaker – Ian Masters at Masters and Son.
I don’t remember being given much of a choice in the matter, but when Margaret Tuppen selected me to take over the running of the Pier to Pier Race from her, some 20 years ago, it was always clear that that was what was going to happen. Knowing I had had some success in the in earlier years, and had continued doing the swim each summer, she saw a chance to lighten her heavy workload.
She had a gently persuasive manner, and gave me all the help I needed in continuing the work she had been doing on the race for many years.
But this was just a small part of her work asa leading force in keeping the sport of competitive swimming on an even keel for over 60 years, both at club and county level. Asking people to volunteer – and getting them to agree – was very much part of her style.
Starting as a member of Brighton Ladies SC and competing at local and county level, swimming became the focal point of her life. This included life saving activities on the beach, and the two photos from 1953 include Margaret.
Through the sport, Margaret met her future husband Bill who was very much part of Brighton SC – which at that time was a male only club. Bill later went on to be the chairman of Brighton SC and Margaret also served as its honorary secretary, continuing in that role long after Bill’s early demise.
She was of great support to Bill during the important the transfer for the club from its home, the old North Road Baths,
which had been its base since 1895 to the Prince Regent Complex in 1982.
It was an interesting time, as negotiations with the Council involved a possible merger of Brighton SC with Brighton Ladies SC. That merger was not to be and Brighton Ladies evolved into Brighton Dolphin SC, with both clubs becoming open to male and female swimmers.
It is ironic that Margaret was still serving on Brighton SC’s management committee at the time of the much more recent talks of a merger with our other local club: Shiverers SC.
It would be fair to say that Margaret put back so much more into the sport than she ever took from it. For over 30 years Margaret was secretary of the County ASA. She also served a term as County ASA President. Her duties even extended to chaperoning county swimming teams on their travels.
In time she had to reduce her workload as her health deteriorated, and it is to the credit of gala organisers that they were able to include her as a team member at galas and other events, working in a limited capacity, in order to continue her duties on event days.
For many years Margaret worked full time as a secretary at a building supplies company near Hickstead, driving there every day.
Several of the mementoes from her years in the sport were on display in the lounge of her house in Ovingdean, where she had lived happily for many years.
Margaret welcomed the club’s committee meetings to be held there for a good number of years. The egg sandwiches (and more often than not – beer) were always a big draw. On all occasions her cat took umbrage at our presence, but I do recall one occasion when we were directed to the kitchen to observe the badgers, which lived in a sett in her back garden, and had come out to eat the food she always left for them.
One of Margaret’s favourite roles, especially in later years, was being ‘front of house’ at the Prince Regent on club nights. She would sit at a desk in reception and was able to assist people with enquiries. I took delight in joining her from time to time and during quiet spells she surprised me with her encyclopaedic knowledge other sports. She could discuss anything from football to Formula 1, having watched hours of coverage on TV.
Both the county and south east region honoured her with awards to reflect the years of voluntary work she had accomplished. I know she took pride in these awards, none more so than for the MBE she was awarded in 2009.
I was very kindly invited to be one of her three guests, together with our then chairman John Ottaway, and her sister-in-law Lily, for the investiture, held at Buckingham Palace. Her medal was awarded by the then Prince of Wales, now King Charles. She was really pleased with the honour and as her guests we certainly got the impression that her many years of service had truly meant something.
All amateur sport relies on voluntary help, but very few can boast a record quite like Margaret’s.