You might have noticed a new plaque on the North Steyne club house which is positioned on the landing outside at the top of the stairs going down to the ground floor.
The Warringah Australia Remembers Committee placed this plaque on the building to commemorate Second-Lieutenant Cecil Patrick Healy. It was unveiled at a ceremony on 14 December 2018.
Second-Lieutenant Cecil Healy died bravely leading a group of men in a charge on a machine gun emplacement at Mount St Quentin in France shortly before the end of the First World War.
Healy lived his life as an inspiration to others, a man of many talents. He is most remembered for winning a gold and silver medal at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games.
Healy was at the forefront of the swimming and lifesaving renaissance. He held the 100 yard championship of Australasia for 6 years from 1905. If he didn’t reinvent the Australian crawl, he certainly perfected it. Demonstrating the stroke throughout Europe after the Olympic Games, he also published a much reprinted pamphlet it. Healy was generous with his time in always being happy to act as a mentor for those less talented. Lifesaving was established during this period and Healy played his part firstly at the old Manly Surf Club and then at North Steyne Surf Bathers and Lifesaving Club.
His swimming skills were put to good use, both in competition for the North Steyne Club and in saving lives.
Perhaps Healy performed one of the greatest feats of sportsmanship when he insisted that the Hawaiian swimmer, Duke Pao Kahanamoku be allowed to complete his qualification for the 100 yards final at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. It was also at Healy’s behest, in writing his column for the newspaper The Referee, that the NSW swimming Association brought Duke Kahanamoku to Australia to promote the sport of swimming. North Steyne club members the Walker brothers helped Duke shape surfboards for riding displays while he visited.
Cecil’s remarkable life and death has been commemorated in Australia by a major biography, Cecil Healy, Australia’s Forgotten Hero, co-authored by 1960 Olympic gold medalist John Devitt, together with the accomplished author, Larry Writer.
The Warringah Australia Remembers Committee was founded to preserve and promote the memory, along with military history and records of those who serve our contury, especially those from Warringah.
We are pleased that the Committee has chosen to place a plaque for Cecil Healy on our club house, and we are very proud to count Cecil Healy as one of our members.