Gerry Thain Tributes...

Gerry Thain MBE (FGT) 1926 - 2013

Gentleman, Inspirational Coach, Legend.

Donations to Gerry’s favourite charity “Medecin Sans Frontieres” are most welcome and can be made online here...


BBC WM Interview with Mike Le Resche: MP3 version Click Here... Version for iDevices in M4a format: Click Here...

BBC WM SPotY TV sequence 2008 - Click Here...             BBC WM Radio Interview - Click here...


Tributes received via Facebook                                Tributes received via Email


British Swimming Coaches Association 



 The Birmingham Mail

Tributes paid during the "Celebration of Life"



Gerry Thain joined the staff of King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys in 1956, on the very day that the school moved to these new buildings. It was all so new, that for a time the Headmaster’s office was on this stage. Those tall poplar trees you see across the playground, around the lower pitches, were newly planted saplings. Over the following decades, the poplars, the school and Gerry Thain grew in stature together.

FG Thain was appointed: ‘to assist with the teaching of French, to share the work in Physical Education, and to take charge of swimming instruction’.

I know nothing of Gerry teaching French. By the time I joined the staff in 1971, he was: a valued member of the English department, Head of PE and Games, and had most definitely ‘Taken charge of swimming instruction’, to the extent that they were digging up the old tennis courts to make way for the School Pool, which was finally opened in 1972.

John Cleak, whose 33 years at Camp Hill coincided with Gerry’s 31, remembers those early years in the 1950s, how Gerry, before he had reached the higher echelons of swimming officialdom, still had time for his own sporting activities: fives, hockey, football, squash, tennis - but swimming was already his main interest.

Sunday mornings he used to go to King’s Heath Baths with four colleagues, with the thought that he might teach them Life Saving. There, to Gerry’s embarrassment, the others ‘larked about’, diving, bombing, swimming lengths underwater. If they had been younger, they would no doubt have spent the rest of the sessions doing all drills on butterfly. Only one of that group ever gained his Life Saving Award, although, in consolation, John Cleak is among those privileged few who have sighted Gerry Thain actually swimming!

Regarding Life Saving Awards, Gerry’s early success with the pupils was much more encouraging. In the 1958 school magazine, among all the successful gala results, Gerry notes: “34 boys achieved Life Saving awards, next year we want 50”. Was it 50? The 1959 magazine reads: “…The total of 74 Life Saving awards is a new school record”, and then, typical Mr Thain: “Next year, it could be better.” Always better. Always looking for improvement, that was Gerry.  If you were admiring some top club swimmer racing through the water, Gerry might quietly say: Yes, but look at their right hand entry. That little finger is still wrong!

With old boys keen to continue their swimming, the club went Open, and soon Camp Hill Edwardians was regularly reaching the national club finals, with Gerry also making his mark on the national swimming scene.

About this time, Mr Thain, or ‘Four Teams! Go!’ as he was sometimes called, successfully undertook a three year external Master’s Degree in Education. And all this in addition to his ‘stewardship’ of the school pitches, arranging fixtures for all inter-school games, his club and school swimming matches, his ASA commitments at home and abroad, to say nothing of a full teaching timetable, and his loving care of a succession of cats.

When I think of Gerry, three words spring to mind: Cool, Calm and Collected.

Cool: Not Gerry, but the Pool! Gerry wanted water at a good training temperature, water with a bit of a bite. It seemed to me the pool was always cool!

Calm: Yes, Gerry was not a man to flap. On the biggest of hectic occasions, he was a calm person, with a calming personality.

Collected: Amazing! The People Gerry ‘collected’ to the cause; be it one of his ‘Top-Men’ taking a junior school games team to some cold, wet, winter venue, or you in the swimming club, so many willing helpers! That was one of his gifts, inspiring others to get involved.

To conclude:

I thank God for so many, good memories of Gerry Thain, and I’m sure you do too.

Gerry and Mary had no children and very few near relatives, but I was reminded of that verse in Psalm 68: “God sets the solitary in families”.

And what a family Camp Hill Edwardians is: loyal through the years, and here today. Gerry earned, and repaid that loyalty one hundred fold, by giving himself for each of his ‘children’.

As members of another ‘family’, King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, we too would join in adding our tribute to Gerry Thain – a dedicated teacher, esteemed colleague, and friend.

PR Jack




I apologise if I have missed anything! If I have please email and I will post it. Many thanks, Steve



© MMXIII Camp Hill Edwardians SC