Ponds lifeguard Terry Turner hangs up his trunks after 40 years
'I’ve swum here when there have been eight inches of ice'
03 January, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
Terry Turner with many of the swimmers he has known during his time at Hampstead Heath ponds
HE has spent four decades keeping a careful watch on the swimmers at Hampstead Heath ponds – but it was time for regulars to give senior lifeguard Terry Turner some attention as he completed his last-ever shift at the weekend.
Terry, 66, hung up his trunks on Sunday when colleagues, friends and swimmers threw a party for the popular lifeguard at the men’s ponds.
They handed over an array of presents. Chairman of Highgate Lifebuoys swimming club, the master tailor Chris Ruocco, gave him a new suit made for the occasion, while he was also given a painting featuring the mixed ponds from grateful swimmers.
The Heath and Hampstead Society chairman Marc Hutchinson handed him a book of thanks from scores of people he got to know down the years, and Heath manager Paul Maskell praised his sense of duty, his kindness and his humour.
Before becoming a lifeguard, Terry had been in the military and also worked at London Zoo.
The lifeguard, who joined the staff in 1977, recalled how his job required more than watching the pool.
“I joined at first as a temporary summer job but there had been trouble at the Lido so they brought me in as someone who could double up to stop people causing problems,” he said.
Over the years, Terry has worked at the ponds and the Lido. The lifeguards have to regularly take dips in
the waters all year round so that, if a swimmer does get into trouble, they are prepared for the cold.
Terry added: “I’ve swum here when there have been eight inches of ice, in the days when we had really cold winters. We’d make channels through it like ice breakers.”
While he will miss the swimming and the regulars who have become friends, he will not miss the early morning starts. “I live in Epping, so I have to get up for 4.30am to catch public transport to get in,” he said. “I won’t miss that aspect at all.”
But he will be coming back for a swim, he told the New Journal, as well as looking forward to spending his retirement walking.
He said: “Now I have some more time, I plan to tackle the south coast.”
He looked back on his 40 years with a sense of satisfaction, but also tinged with sadness.
He added: “We have had to drag a few people out of the water but I will also remember people who have been lost in the ponds here.”