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Tributes paid to Navy officer George Male, who survived World War Two HMS Hecla attack in Casablanca
When his Navy ship sunk after an attack during the Second World War, strong swimmer George Male was one of the only survivors.
Realising swimming was an important life skill, the Navy officer, who died last week aged 93, co-founded Otters Disabled Swimming Club, in Borehamwood, in the 1960s.
His son, 59-year-old Nick Male, is now trying to continue his dad’s “inspiring legacy” by raising money for the club, which now meets at The Venue, in Shenley Road.
The retired teacher said: “It was a miracle my dad survived what happened – it was only because he was an exceptionally good swimmer.
“His close friends drowned and that hit him really hard. Starting the swimming club was his way of dealing with it.
“I miss him so much but hope that by raising as much cash as possible for Otters, I can help keep what he started alive.”
The HMS Hecla was torpedoed off the coast of Casablanca in November 1942, killing all but 200 of the 3,000 people on board.
Mr Male was born and bred in Plymouth, Devon, but moved to Borehamwood after his marriage to Kay in 1940. The couple spent 62 happy years together before Kay died aged 87.
After the war, he took a job as a public health inspector for Elstree Rural District Council, before retiring in 1974.
The father-of-one, who was also member of the Rotary Club, devoted his retirement to climbing mountains with the blind and volunteering for the talking newspapers.
Even after he was forced to give up swimming due to old age, he still attended the Otters sessions because he “loved to see the smiles on everyone’s faces”.
He died peacefully at Hill House Care Centre, Elstree Hill, Elstree, where his son said he was given the “best possible care”.
The Melrose Avenue, Borehamwood resident, added: “My dad was really there for me when I was growing up.
“I am a member of a brass band and I loved seeing his face when he watched me play because you could really tell he was enjoying himself.
“I have fond memories of him singing at Christmas time – he was a fantastic singer and sometimes used to make up songs as well.
“He had a fantastic sense of humour and made everyone laugh all the time. His smile was just contagious.
“I miss my dad terribly but I could not be prouder of everything he achieved in his life, he truly was a very special man.”
The funeral will be held on Tuesday, October 30 at St Michael’s Church, in Brook Road, Borehamwood, at 11.30am. All who remember him are welcome to attend.
To make a donation to Otters Swimming Club, contact Nethercotts Undertakers, Shenley Road, Borehamwood.
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