Denise St Aubyn Hubbard
I was very sad to hear that Denise St Aubyn Hubbard had passed away aged 91. This incredible woman lived an inspiring life and I was privileged to photograph her in 2012 as part of my 1948 Olympians project.
Denise came to my attention as she was a high diver in the 1948 London Olympics. When myself and fellow photographer, Rachel Poulton, went to photograph her in the spring of 2012, we came away in awe of how much she’d packed into her life, her fearlessness and sense of adventure.
As a young girl she grew up in Egypt where she began diving, first taught by her mother and then by coach Ahmed Ibrahim Kamel. She was due to represent Britain as a swimmer in the 1940 Olympics but with the outbreak of war, life took a different course. Denise was recruited to Bletchley Park. The Foreign Office spotted her talent for language (she already spoke fluent French and Arabic) and enrolled her on a fast tracked Japanese course. Having learnt Japanese in six months, she began working at Bletchley as a translator.
In later life, Denise developed a love for sailing. She trained in Southampton in seamanship and navigation, and in the 1970s she joined the Royal Navy Auxiliary Service and became the only woman skipper for eight years. She set up a sailing school from her house and later, at the age of 64 sailed single-handedly across the Atlantic in a yatch.
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