Monday, 21 October 2019

Celebrating The Life of a Great Man - Lyall Mortimer



Lyall Mortimer

24 June 1939 - 24 September 2019

With sadness, Ingrid Saxton (former President of NZMS between 1999 and 2003) and I attended the funeral service of Lyall Mortimer in Lower Hutt on 1 October 2019 and were able to speak on behalf of NZMS. Lyall had died on 26 September. 

Lyall is one of the most important figures in the history of NZ Masters Swimming. He was a former President of the Huia Masters Swimming Club which had started in 1982 and, whilst also a participant in Masters Swimming events, he quickly became known as an administrator. He was Vice-President of NZMS in 1989-1990 and 1990- 1991 and then became President of NZMS for three years in the 1992-1993, 1993- 1994 and 1994-1995 terms. Lyall represented NZMS on the New Zealand Swimming Federation Board from 1993 to 2006. This was the predecessor body to Aquatics NZ. 

Lyall was also the NZMS representative on the Hilary Commission Group on Masters Sport, chaired by the late Sir Brian Lochore but his most signal achievement was membership of the FINA Masters Swimming Committee from 1997 to 2009. In his last term he was Chairman of the' Committee, and thought to be the first New Zealander to hold such a position within FINA. In 2009 at the FINA dinner in Rome Lyall was awarded a silver pin by FINA for services to Masters Swimming. 

It was clear from the large numbers present at his funeral and the warm addresses in his memory from his t ree daughters, Chris, Ginny and Ange, that he was highly regarded as a family man. Born in Gore, Lyall had spent his early years in Southland before moving to other parts ,,of the South Island and then later the North Island before eventually settling in Lower Hutt. When he retired he worked for the Ministry of Health as an OSH inspector. Family melnbers spoke of his ability to fix anything about the house, his ability to rebuild a car engine and his habit of hoarding nuts and bolts and various other items in his garage. This likeable and capable man made a huge contribution to Masters Swimming in NZ and will be fondly remembered. 

He is survived by his wife, Dawn, and, as mentioned, his three daughters. 

Ed Evelly, Secretary of the FINA Masters Committee sent his condolences. He and his wife, Claudine, had holidayed with Lyall and Dawn and had become very good friends. 

In his later years Lyall was affected by Parkinson's and suffered from cancer but nevertheless lived to the fine age of 80 years. 

Roger Eagles

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