Tributes pour in for Poulton ‘legend’ Barrie Rayner who taught ‘50,000’ kids to swim
and live on Freeview channel 276
Barrie Rayner, affectionately known as the “legend”, spent more than 40 years of his life teaching children how to swim on the Fylde coast.
Having spent much of his time at his local YMCA pool in Breck Road, Barrie taught approximately 50,000 children to swim during his career.
He was also somewhat of a local celebrity, featuring in several articles in the Blackpool Gazette throughout his life – one of which was a front page story with the headline ‘Mystery Man Saves Boy’.
The story was published soon after he rescued a boy who was drowning in a lake during one of his first dates with his future wife Sue.
The Gazette, formerly known as the Evening Gazette, treated Barrie to a nice meal for his heroic deed.
But on September 6, Barrie died following a battle with cancer, leading to a flood of tributes from former pupils, colleagues and members of the public.
His daughter Leanne Rayner-Davies, 44, told the Gazette: “It’s overwhelming really the amount of lives he has touched.
“Everyone knows him in Poulton and I don’t think it’s really hit us because everyone has just been talking about him so much.”
Originally from Manchester, Barrie moved to Poulton with his wife in 1999, who he married in 1975.
The couple first met each other at school when they were both 16.
“My mum took a shine to him as he was the best footballer in school,” Leanne said.
Barrie, who previously had a job at BAE Systems in Warton, began his career as a swimming teacher after volunteering at Leanne’s classes when she was five.
In 2009, Barrie suffered a heart attack, and two years later he received pioneering surgery for two brain aneurysms.
Four years ago he was then diagnosed with cancer, but that did not stop him from continuing to do what he loved the most – teaching children how to swim.
And now his granddaughter Ella, 16, is continuing the family legacy by pursuing a career in teaching.
Leanne said: “I used to be a swimming teacher as well, so it's like a family tradition.
“It felt as though he just hung on for all of the special occasions so it was nice that he saw absolutely everything.
“He was known as the ‘legend’ and he will always be known as the ‘legend’.”
Barrie’s funeral will take place at Carleton Cemetery on Monday, October 2 at 11.45am.
The funeral cars will also be driving past some of the schools that Barrie taught at over the years.
In a tribute to Barrie, Poulton St Chad's CE Primary School wrote: “We are heartbroken to share that Mr Barrie Rayner, from YMCA, has sadly passed away this week.
“A true legend, who over the last 40 years continued to teach our pupils to swim on a weekly basis as part of their PE lessons, right up until this July.
“Condolences to his family and to the Poulton community of which he is highly respected.
“We will miss you Mr Rayner. Thank you for everything.”