A South Shields swimming coach who has introduced thousands of children across the borough to the water has retired after 40 years.
Mary Wilson, 61, has stepped down from her role as school swimming teacher at Haven Point - bringing and end to a career spanning four decades.
The popular instructor, from the Lawe Top area of South Shields, started her career at the age of 21, following a stint as a volunteer life guard.
She then took a job as a lifeguard in Washington in 1974 - completing a certificate to become a swimming teacher.
Since then she has taught children at both Temple Park and Haven Point as well at various schools. She said: “I started teaching in 1977 at Temple Park when it first opened and then taught at five or six schools including Biddick Hall Juniors, Temple Park Juniors and Stanhope Juniors.
“That was back when all the schools had pools. I think its a shame they don’t any more because they were ideal for kids to learn in.
“I have taught thousands of children in that time and would take school classes or 30 odd children.”
Mary, who is retiring due to ill health added: “I think leaving has come at the right time, but it’s been a really rewarding experience seeing children who had been frightened of water start swimming.”
A spokesman for Haven Point said: “Mary has been a swimming teacher for 40 years and has taught thousands of school children over the years.
“We would like to thank her for her work.”
Colleagues also expressed their admiration of the highly thought of teacher.
One said: “Mary has served the council for over 40 years and in that time thousands of South Tyneside residents have had the privilege of learning to swim under her guidance at both Temple Park and Haven Point along with many school pools in the borough.”