The Magic of Roller Skating

The first recorded use of roller skates was during a London theater performance in 1743. These two and later three-wheeled skates allowed the wearer to move forward, but little else. Although flawed in design, early roller skates remained virtually unchanged for more than a century until the four-wheeled skate was invented out of frustration in 1863 by James Leonard Plimpton. Speed and direction could now be controlled, opening up a world of competition and recreational possibilities.  (rollerskatingmuseum.com) Kenneth Gavins of Sarasota, Florida is one of the many to benefit from Plimpton’s frustration with early-model skates. Born in Doncaster, England in 1925, Kenneth began roller skating as a young child simply as a means of transportation to and from school. After serving in the British Royal Navy from 1945 to 1947, Kenneth was introduced to speed skating, fell in love with the sport and joined the Batley Speed Club in Yorkshire. He raced with the team for five years, winning the British Nationals twice before immigrating to Canada in 1951. The 3,500 mile move didn’t dampen Kenneth’s enthusiasm. He quickly formed a new speed team in Toronto and began taking lessons. As his passion grew, so did his list of achievements, including Bronze Bars and Medals in dance, freestyle and figure skating and a Bronze Bar, Bronze Medal and Silver Bar in speed skating as well as two Eastern Canadian Speed Skating Championships. In 1956, Kenneth was married to his wife, Sybil and a year later they immigrated to the United States, settling in Cleveland where they both continued to skate recreationally. In May of 1970, Kenneth was raised a Master Mason at the Gaston G. Allen Lodge #629, now the Clifton-Gaston Allen Lodge #664. Over the next two decades, he served as the Worshipful Master three times, as well as the Education Officer and Deputy Grand Master for District #22. Kenneth and Sybil have lived in Florida since 1993, when they moved to Sarasota to retire. It was in Florida, that Kenneth began taking private lessons again and rekindled his love of skating. At 89-years-old, his commitment to the sport has earned him further accolades in addition to keeping him healthy and active. He and Sybil, now 85, still make time every week to skate. He also remains an active Mason, serving as Chairman for the Grand Master’s Reunion in Sarasota.  “2016 will mark my 20th year!” he says proudly of the luncheon he organizes each year. Kenneth’s life-long devotion to roller skating is inspirational, to say the least. His determination to continue learning should act as motivation to us all to pursue our dreams, becoming better and better at the things we love!

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