Remembering Olympic diver Roy Walsh: A great Blackpool sportsman and entertainer

The life of Roy Walsh, an Olympian and one of Blackpool sport's great characters, will be celebrated at his funeral in Lancaster this Friday.

Thursday, 17th January 2019, 10:06 am
Updated Friday, 18th January 2019, 1:32 am
Roy Walsh in his GB Olympic blazer in 1956

Roy, who represented Great Britain at diving in the Melbourne Olympics of 1956, died on January 4, aged 82.He competed in both the springboard and platform disciplines in 1956, the first time the Olympics had been staged in Australia, and was invited back in 2006 to celebrate the Melbourne Games’ 50th anniversary. Those who had competed returned to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for an emotional parade evoking memories of the opening ceremony.Born and raised in Blackpool, Roy lived on Dinmore Avenue and attended Claremont Primary School and Palatine Technical School. He began to compete at diving from the age of 12 and was soon taking on adults.Roy had trials with Blackpool FC in 1953, the year of their FA Cup triumph, but decided not to pursue football and to focus on his diving. At the time of the GB Olympic trials, Roy was ranked second for the high board (platform) and fifth for the springboard. Roy was in the Army on National Service at the time of the Games but he found the competition in Melbourne too strong, particularly the Americans, and he reached the final in neither discipline.The journey to Australia took four days and Roy recalled being seated on the plane next to middle distance runner Derek Ibbotson, who would break the world mile record the following year. A natural entertainer as well as a sportsman, Roy joined an Aqua Show in Blackpool after the Olympics, combining swimming and diving with comedy – he even tried his hand as a stand-up comic. In the mid-1960s the show moved to Morecambe, where Roy would make his home for more than 50 years. He undertook a wide variety of jobs but never lost his love of performance, featuring in a trampoline act called the Rebounders.Roy remained a strong and devoted swimmer into his 70s and featured in the welcoming committee when the Olympic torch visited Morecambe ahead of the 2012 Games in London.A keen golfer and angler, Roy was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. His funeral takes place at Lancaster and Morecambe Crematorium at 10.30am on Friday, followed by a celebration of Roy’s life at Morecambe Golf Club.

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