Mitchell, Syd

From as early as I can remember I have had a passion for studying technical stuff and recycling what I had learned in a more understandable form to anyone who would listen and this carried on throughout my adult life.

In 1984 I started a swimming pool company with the main aim of designing and developing filtration and water chemistry control equipment especially for the leisure industry. Over the years, that involved studying and understanding water from the molecular level up to the volumes of large public swimming pools taking into account spa baths (Jacuzzis), water chutes and flumes along the way.

At that time the newly emerging regulations that were being formulated to ensure the health and safety of customers of leisure centres required that the owners had to ensure that their staff had been adequately trained.  To meet this need I set up suitable training schemes and, in order to explain some of the more difficult concepts, I used a mixture of humour or tongue in cheek explanations coupled with some downright outlandish visual aids.  I did this deliberately because boring, technical detail can be hard to understand and easy to forget – whereas an example that gets everyone laughing is likely to remain memorable along with the principle it was intended to convey.

In 1999 I saw a customer’s brand new Koi pond and I was hooked - I had to have one!  I asked him lots of questions then went home early and started digging my own Koi pond that very afternoon.

In order to learn more I joined a Koi club where I first heard the phrase; “we don’t keep fish, we keep water”.  That phrase has many different variations but the meaning is clear; water quality is the key factor when it comes to good Koi husbandry.  Although, as a new member of the club I was a rank novice where Koi appreciation was concerned, I realised that I had something I could contribute to the general pool of knowledge within that club.  In exchange for being given advice on what to look for when buying Koi and how to care for them afterwards, I found that my years of playing with water for a living meant that I could easily answer questions about water chemistry, pumps, pipes, equipment etc.

Soon after that I retired early which gave me the time to study in greater depth how water affects Koi health and development.  Early retirement also gave me the free time to spend sharing what I’ve learned over the years and I do this via my website, magazine articles, club talks and, more recently, putting on whole day Koi educational seminars.

In 2010 I was a founder member of the UK Koi Policy Unit and I co-authored the UKKPU Show Rules and Guidelines.  These SR&Gs were required by Defra and UK animal welfare organisations as a standard by which UK Koi shows could be run in order to ensure the welfare and safe treatment of Koi during the shows.

For the purpose of writing this bio I’ve just had a count up.  To my surprise (or horror) I find that, to date (2014), I’ve written just over one hundred magazine articles!  Note to self; try to find some spare time this year to investigate whether there is any possibility of having a life where I can squeeze in something that doesn’t involve continuously talking or writing about Koi.

!If you're not havin' FUN, you're not doin' it right