Hi, my name is Lynne and I have been lucky to call Gran Alacant home for the last 5 years. People fascinate me and I love to hear about their adventures and life stories. Over the next few months, I will be sharing some interviews with GA’s very own Superstars!
This month’s interview is with Stuart Swallow. Stuart hosts the pub quiz and special events at Skipper in Masa Square. He and wife Sheila came to GA 3 ½ years ago after coming to Alicante on holiday and falling in love with the place.
Born in 1942 during World War II in South London in Surrey, Stuart was brought up in pubs ran by his parents, first in Kent at the end of the war and later in Margate. Stuart attended grammar school in Canterbury then followed his love of art and painting to attend Art College to study a BA in Graphic Design. To date Stuart has exhibited his work in Cyprus, France and Spain.
When Stuart left college, he joined the famous Butlin’s Red Coat team and compered shows for big names such as Cliff Richard, The Springfields and Roy Castle. Billy Butlin MBE (1899-1980) was a British entrepreneur whose name is synonymous with the British holiday camp. At 17, Stuart swam the English Channel in 14 ½ hours. Sponsored and organised by Billy Butlin, this gruelling cross channel international swim took a full year of training and attracted some of the best marathon swimmers in the world.
In 1970, Stuart joined the government criminal justice Probation Service where he worked for 34 years. During his time working with the probation service, he obtained a BSc in Criminology at London University as a Mature Student. The last 5 years of his working life was spent as the European Probation Officer for the UK working throughout Europe. In the prison service, Stuart met Myra Hindley, a serial killer sentenced to life imprisonment who he described as “scary”. He also met Charlie Kray, the eldest brother of Ronnie and Reggie, who he described as the “money man” in the extortion racket The Firm. During the nightclub glitz of the era Charlie became a confidant to the likes of Joan Collins, Judy Garland, boxer Sonny Liston and Christine Keeler. He also had a brief affair with the late great Barbara Windsor.
Stuart was instrumental in setting up a ‘Foreign Nationals in Prison and Probation’ initiative to support European citizens sentenced outside their country of residence as well as their families. For this work, the European Union awarded Stuart an honorary doctorate. This award was presented to him by the English humanitarian and author, Terry Waite CBE at Buckingham Palace.
In 1963, Stuart married first wife Sue and had a daughter Alison and son Ian. Sadly, Sue lost her battle with breast cancer in 1999. Stuart started courting Sheila who he had known for many years working in nightclubs and bars. Sheila and Stuart have now been married for 22 years and have 5 children and 6 grandchildren between them.
Sheila and Stuart retired in 2004, moved to Cyprus for 13 years then the South of France before finally settling in GA. Stuart was part of a quiz team in England that remained undefeated for 3 years! His general knowledge, quick wit, singing, jokes and banter makes him a wonderful and much loved Quiz Master at Skipper. Stuart and Sheila will soon celebrate their 80th birthdays. They are planning a joint birthday party and inviting all their friends and family from all over the world.
Happy 80th Birthday to Stuart and Sheila when it comes. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with us.
If you have your own story to tell, please contact Lynne on firstname.lastname@example.org