Birkett, Victor

Eastbourne estate agent born 1926, died Eastbourne 2014 aged 88

Born Victor Norman Albert Birkett in Eastbourne and attended Downsmede School, an independent school in the town.

He joined the Royal Marines as a Green Beret and was involved in the D Day Landings. After the war he returned to Eastbourne where he worked as a civil servant before setting up his own business as an estate agent.

It was in 1952 he fulfilled an ambition to swim the English Channel. The then 26-year-old estate agent trained for the event at the old Devonshire Baths in the town and on August 18 1952 was one of three swimmers who swam from France to Dover (Mayoh and Soliman.

News of the swim was relayed onto a public address system outside the Picturedrome Cinema in Langney Road where crowds were waiting to hear of Mr Birkett’s progress.

Aside from his swimming, he played rugby for the Combined Services, auditioned for the Carl Rosa Opera Company, played water polo for the county, taught sport at Eastbourne College, was a life-long Conservative and received the Freedom of Eastbourne.

He was also a famous wrestler in the 1960s and 70s and was known as the Hooded Outlaw.

Swims by Birkett, Victor

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