What we missed - the end of the Mike Small cup series

Remembering another of the great Serpentine characters

Saturday 6 February would have seen the final heats of the Mike Small cup series with prizes presented by Bill Deeley and family.  The post-Christmas winter series (optimistically referred-to by some as the Spring series) was introduced into the race calendar in 1968.  Prior to then racing finished on Christmas morning and did not recommence until late March/Easter.  The cup is swum-for over a series of 40-yard races from the end of December until the beginning of February.

Mike Small is another of the club's great characters from the past.  Mike had a horrific motorcycle accident in his youth which left him with one arm, a club foot and in continuous pain.  Mike viewed this as a hindrance, not a disability.  His wicked sense of humour never left him and is reflected in the shape of the Mike Small cup adapted to his specifications by club silversmith Bill Phipps:  half an arm and a wonky base.

Mike Small awaiting the start, Christmas 1991

Mike Small awaiting the start, Christmas 1991

February 1991, races iced-off

February 1991, races iced-off

Mike Small emerging from the hole in the ice

Mike Small emerging from the hole in the ice

Mike Small and Bill Deeley watch on as the Metropolitan Police interrogate Brian Thomas regarding the whereabouts of his other brain cell

Mike Small and Bill Deeley watch on as the Metropolitan Police interrogate Brian Thomas regarding the whereabouts of his other brain cell

Race series sponsor

When introduced in 1968 the "Spring Series" was for the Edward Young Dark Fire Rum cup. 

The Mike Small cup first appeared on the fixture list in 1994, sponsored by Mike's friend Mark Frazer.

From 2001 Tony Cuthbert and Saundra Satterlee sponsored the series until Tony's sad passing in 2011.  Sponsorship then passed to club handicapper Mark Fabik.

Bill Deeley, who was a good friend of Mike's and would often give him a lift home on a Saturday morning, has sponsored the cup since 2015.

2002 presentation

2002 presentation

In 2002 sponsor Saundra won the cup, but did not claim a prize.

Yoko Reid won in 2004

Yoko Reid won in 2004

Yoko with President Roy Wrey, flanked by Saundra and Tony

2006, and Robin wins the honours

2006, and Robin wins the honours

Bull terrier Pickles was disappointed not to be able to eat the prizes

Mark Fabik sponsored the race from 2012 to 2014 when he was kidnapped by Kristie and smuggled out to Australia

Mark Fabik sponsored the race from 2012 to 2014 when he was kidnapped by Kristie and smuggled out to Australia

Mark with Nichola, Deirdre, Kristie (now Mrs Fabik) and Jenny. February 2012.

The Deeleys have sponsored the cup since 2015

The Deeleys have sponsored the cup since 2015

2016 winner, Ange Johnson

Another club stalwart with their hands on this precious trophy

Another club stalwart with their hands on this precious trophy

Bill Deeley joined the club in 1967.  He faithfully served the club as Hon. Auditor from the mid-1970s until 2017 and is a club vice-President.

Bill entered the merchant navy straight from school in the early 1950s.  By the age of 16  he was at the helm of a ship heading to Cyprus.  The navy life gave Bill the chance to travel all over the world but he especially enjoyed the far east, Hong Kong and Singapore. He became a navigator but his naval career was cut short due to an accident in Vancouver where he broke his leg.  On return to England he trained to be an accountant, hence his value to the club as an auditor and advisor on all things financial.

For many years in the 80s and 90s Bill would be accompanied both in and out of the lake by Steed, his golden Labrador.  Steed regularly swam along with Bill in the races and his name even graces one of the cups (the Daily Telegraph cup, now rededicated as the Emmi Hunte cup).

1977, Bill with Bob Kelly and boys Duff and Sean plus David Titmuss

1977, Bill with Bob Kelly and boys Duff and Sean plus David Titmuss

1982, Bill emerging from the old club changing room with Bill Phipps and Mike Olizar

1982, Bill emerging from the old club changing room with Bill Phipps and Mike Olizar

2004 and Bill is presented with the Clary Reed cup for winning Alan Lacy's breastroke race

2004 and Bill is presented with the Clary Reed cup for winning Alan Lacy's breastroke race

More silverware in 2004 - the Bill Phipps cup

More silverware in 2004 -  the Bill Phipps cup

Andy Deeley has been ever-present at the lake for many decades.  As a child he would accompany Bill to support and cheer him on in the races.  Andy spent much of his early career as an officer in the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment (now called The Rifles, much less of a mouthful says Andy).  What he does nowadays is a complete mystery, even to himself!

1980, Andy feeding the Serpentine ducks on Christmas morning

1980, Andy feeding the Serpentine ducks on Christmas morning

Don't you just love the hair and the flared trousers

February 1991 and a teenage Andy is helped into the hole in the ice by Norman Jones and Alan Titmuss

February 1991 and a teenage Andy is helped into the hole in the ice by Norman Jones and Alan Titmuss

Alan and Norman join Andy in the hole in the ice

Alan and Norman join Andy in the hole in the ice

Andy and Bill, February 2015

Andy and Bill, February 2015