A SWIMMING teacher at Risca Leisure Centre, who taught many of its current staff to swim, has retired after more than 35 years doing the job she loved.

Anne Axford, 74, has worked in Risca Leisure Centre since it was opened in 1977 by the Queen, but decided that the time was right to hang up her goggles for good last weekend.

Ms Axford, from Risca, said: “I had always enjoyed it but I thought the time was right to finish. During the time I was up there I was a lifeguard and I have done a lot of courses.

“But the best thing about the job was the satisfaction of having children turning up at five years of age, a lot of them not wanting to go into the water, and seeing them develop into good swimmers. It’s very rewarding.”

Although retiring, Ms Axford is not keen to give up the active lifestyle she has developed from working in a leisure centre.

She said: “Even though I am retiring I definitely won’t be stopping. I will still be volunteering at Ty Sign Primary School. I still plan to keep active with gardening and walking.

“After all this time it has become part of my life. I’ve loved every minute of teaching all of the children over the years and I will be sad to leave.”

She has taught thousands of children how to swim, including the leisure centre’s current swimming instructor Dan Ravenhill, 26, also from Risca.

Mr Ravenhill said: “I have known Anne since I was learning to swim in the early nineties. I’ve learnt a lot of my teaching skills watching Anne teach and she will be missed at the centre.”

Dave Poole, Caerphilly council’s cabinet member for community and leisure services, said: “It is our dedicated staff, like Anne, that are making the difference at our leisure centres.

“Getting children confident in the water is such a huge priority and Anne has been an integral staff member in helping us strive to meet Swim Wales’ ambition of getting every child in Wales swimming competently by age 11.

“We will be sorry to see her go and I would like to wish her the best of luck in her retirement.”