From the soccer field to shipyards

DECORATED: Kym Lynch with a host of sports medals and trophies, including a 1979 Whyalla Pool champion trophy and a silver medal in the men's lawn bowls during the World Masters Games.

DECORATED: Kym Lynch with a host of sports medals and trophies, including a 1979 Whyalla Pool champion trophy and a silver medal in the men's lawn bowls during the World Masters Games.

For a man who was once rendered unable to speak due to a stroke, Kym Lynch certainly has a lot to say.

Kym is well known around town for his sporting exploits.

He moved to Whyalla from the Riverland in 1962 and did his schooling at Memorial Oval Primary School, Hincks Avenue Primary School, Whyalla High School and Eyre High School.

Kym and his older brother played football for North Whyalla, winning premierships in Under 14s and Under 16s, while playing soccer for the musicians club (he was also a skilled guitarist).

He was soon recognised as an impressive soccer talent and was invited to try out for Croatia, the team he would play for over the next 10 years.

"It was a really big club back in the 70's, there were a lot of players to choose from," he said.

After school Kym would go on to do his apprenticeship at the BHP shipyards as a ship-building technician.

"The idea was to learn all facets of shipbuilding, you do your trade certificate for two years and then for a further two years we were at the institute of technology which is now UniSA."

Kym said he 'loved' his work at the shipyards, and said if the facility hadn't closed he would still be there.

"We did three months in the safety department, three months in the planning department, three months in the drawing office so we could get a full overview of everything to do with building a ship," he said.

His time at the shipyards also saw him head out to sea on a ship trial, battling 40 foot waves in the Great Australian Bight.

Kym helped test the capabilities of vessels by putting them through the challenging conditions.

"The ship would do its course and then come back in towards Whyalla where tugs would come out and pick us up to take us back into shore," he said.

"There were some real big waves out there. The sea trials were about testing the boat, sometimes you would go along at full speed and drop the anchor."

By contrast, Kym describes the day the shipyards shut as 'terrible'.

"That was a real sad time, it was a shock to everyone more than anything," he said.

Following the demise of the shipyards, Kym and his wife at the time moved to New South Wales where he worked for the Commonwealth Government maintaining the Moomba Sydney Pipeline.

He also did acting work in Sydney, getting roles in miniseries and advertisements and hosted a show on the community radio station Hawkesbury Radio.

Unfortunately this next chapter of his life would be overshadowed by a stroke that he suffered when he was visiting family in Whyalla in 2011.

"I woke up at my sister's place and I was unable to talk, but there was no one around for me to talk to at the time," Kym said.

Kym was in hospital for several days, luckily there was a speech pathologist in Whyalla at the time who was able to assess him.

He worked on his speech with local Doctor Peter Windsor, focusing on the process of re-introducing words to his brain.

Needless to say, it was a tough challenge.

"One morning he pulled out a pen and said 'what's that?', and I couldn't say the word 'pen' or 'fountain', so I just said 'bic'," Kym said.

"Then he pointed to his watch and said 'what's that?', and I was getting really frustrated because I couldn't say 'watch' so I went 'chronological time piece'!"

Now, nine years later and living in Whyalla, Kym can speak freely - evidenced by the interview time of over half an hour.

He is retired, but has a very exciting life to look back on.