A VOLUNTEER who has helped provide swimming therapy to disabled people in Barry for more than 35 years has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM).

Pat Finch, of Coldbrook Road East, has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for services to people with disabilities due to her involvement with Barry Beavers Disabled Swimming Club.

The 70-year-old started with the charity in 1983 and has been its secretary from 2010 to the present date.

From 2005 to 2015 she was a trustee of Vale Centre for Voluntary Service.

Mrs Finch didn’t realise the importance of the envelope when it came through her door.

“At first I thought it was a scam,” she said. “Then I read it and read it.

“It was quite a shock – a nice shock.

“I couldn’t believe it.

“It’s been very rewarding being with Barry Beavers for nearly 40 years and seeing them all come and go.

“A lot of them weren’t sure of getting in the water at the start and now they are swimming in galas.

“It’s good to see them achieve their goal.”

Mrs Finch has used the Halliwick Association Swimming Therapy and she organised two Halliwick four-day courses, foundation and instructor, in February and October 2019.

She ran a foundation course in 2015, and in 2016, as an instructor course, had candidates from Wales, England, Spain, and Hungary.

This training has enabled Barry Beavers to hold Halliwick workshops in Barry and in other regional clubs.

Barry Beavers hosted its first swimming gala in 2001.

But before this she enabled Barry Beavers to travel all over Wales and England where members competed in swimming galas at regional and national level with a team of up to 30 members competing.

She and Barry Beavers now attend all the swimming galas.

Eight members from Barry Beavers were part of the 21 strong swimming team that represented Wales - winning gold and seven other medals.

The team helped Wales win the UK National Gala in October 2018.

She has organised fundraising, helped recruit volunteers, and increased membership from the 20 when Barry Beavers started in December 1981 to more than 80 today.

Membership has doubled since she became secretary.

And as a trustee of Glamorgan Voluntary Service she was involved in the difficult challenge of forming this organisation from the merger of Vale Centre for Voluntary Service and Glamorgan Voluntary Services.