Remembering a Hampstead Heath ponds swimmer for 50 years

Winifred Frances Cornwell, veteran swimmer of the Kenwood Ladies Pond Hampstead Heath, has sadly passed away at the age of 98 years after a brief but severe illness.

Wyn as she was known to many, was a dedicated all-year swimmer at the Ladies pond for more than 50 years, often braving ice and snow in the winter in order to secure a “dip”.

Wyn had been known to take three to five swims a day depending on the time of year, and fitted these all around raising four children from the family home in York Rise, Highgate.

In particular Wyn loved the pond as a beautiful oasis, valuing it as a wonderful refuge from the stresses and strains of daily life.

Over the years Wyn gained many friends amongst both swimmers, lifeguards and keepers, who will miss her for her kindness, stoical nature and strong determination.


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Born in London in 1913 and surviving two World Wars, with a lifetime spanning almost a century, Wyn never grumbled, and had a sense of innocence and tolerance which permeated her days.

Not interested in the trappings of modern life, Wyn was content with simple pleasures, a cycle ride, a swim and meeting friends.

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For many years Wyn had also worked for The Forces Help, often visiting ex-soldiers in dire circumstances in order to improve their living conditions.

Wyn was ultimately given an award and also invited to Buckingham Palace in recognition of this work.

Wyn could often be seen cycling on her bike over Hampstead Heath, in all weathers with a mac or headscarf, on her way to Kenwood Ladies Pond with beloved Vic, her husband, at her side.

n Winifred Frances Cornwell was born on April 15, 1913 and died on November 25, 2011. She is survived by daughter Victoria King, and sons Hugh Cornwell, lead singer with punk band The Stranglers, Richard Cornwell, and David Cornwell.

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