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My Verdi was a real lifesaver; Former beach lifeguard dies aged 87.

Byline: GEORGINA STUBBS @georginafstubbs

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Southport lifeguard who helped save the lives of 800 people.

Former professional footballer Verdi Godwin, 87, was chief lifeguard in the seaside resort in a period spanning over 30 years.

He also had a lengthy footballing career, playing for Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City and Tranmere.

The pensioner who celebrated 60 years of marriage with wife Daphne earlier this year, died earlier this month at Southport hospital.

Daphne, 85, said: "He was born in Blackburn in 1926 and we met in the ballroom in the Blackpool Tower.

"Before he was a lifeguard he was a footballer. He was 18 when he was first signed for Blackburn Rovers. He had a few clubs, he went to Manchester City, Stoke City, Southport Football Club and Tranmere Rovers."

During his career as a footballer Verdi scored 29 goals in 144 appearances at League and FA Cup level.

Daphne added: "We moved to Southport because he signed for the team. I had a job at the sea bathing lake.

"My boss told me that they needed lifeguards on the beach. Verdi applied and got the job and he was there some 34 to 35 years. He loved it, he was chief lifeguard.

"He had a book and he said there were some 800 rescues in that time and not a single fatality. The lads all loved him, they all seemed to want to do it for Verdi, he was a great leader."

Daphne said that after Verdi finished playing football he became a scout for football clubs, looking for new talent and potential newcomers.

She said: "He worked at Liverpool FC for Bill Shankly for some time, he had some that made the grade, like Tony Waiters and Paul Mariner."

Verdi was also given the British Empire Medal for his services to the public on the beach as a lifeguard and during World War II aged 17 he became a Bevan Boy.

Daphne added: "Towards the end he got dementia, he wasn't all that bad with it, but he wasn't that good either.

"He had a massive stroke on the Tuesday before he died, that is when he went to hospital.

She added: "Verdi was a great person, I am really going to miss him a lot. But he will always be with me."

CAPTION(S):

ACTION MAN: Verdi with wife Daphne, above, and playing for Blackburn Rovers in the late 1940s,

AWARD: Verdi on Southport Beach with a trophy presented to him to recognise his record of no fatalities in more than 30 years of service and, right, with other lifeguards in 1965 front, third from left)
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 12, 2013
Words:444
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