Geoff Huegill and his sister-in-law, Ballina solicitor Clarissa Huegill, pictured in May, 2005.
Geoff Huegill and his sister-in-law, Ballina solicitor Clarissa Huegill, pictured in May, 2005.

Skippy's Ballina family left out

A TRIBUTE television show to Australian swimmer Geoff ‘Skippy' Huegill didn't hit the mark, according to his Ballina family.

Geoff's sister-in-law, Ballina solicitor Clarissa Huegill, said that while the tribute was well-deserved, she was disappointed more air time wasn't given to her late husband – and Geoff's elder half-brother – John Huegill and other family members in the This is Your Life program that aired on the Nine Network on Monday night.

“Family is what forms people. That's their life,” Ms Huegill said.

“Family is who you are, not famous people.”

Due to a family breakdown, Geoff and his brother Graeme did not meet John and their two half-sisters until the boys were in their early teens.

They only found out about each other's existence because of a connection with their grandfather.

Ms Huegill said Geoff, Graeme and John formed an “instant connection” once they did meet.

“Apparently John looked so much like their father,” she said.

“And he tried to be a father figure to Geoff and Graeme.”

John, who died in 2004 from motor neuron disease, went to Geoff's swimming trials as his career progressed, and attended the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 to support his brother, even though he was struggling with his own disease by that time.

Ms Huegill went to Melbourne for the filming of the television show on February 16.

Several hours of footage was taken, including a “three-second grab” of a photograph of John, Graeme and Geoff, and footage of Geoff with his grandmother in Thailand, both of which didn't make the final cut.

Ms Huegill said she has had personal communication with Geoff, who was also disappointed with the lack of attention to his family in the show.

Ms Huegill has since received an apology from Channel 9's executive producer, Adrian Dellevergin.

He wrote: “By no means did we intend to disrespect you or your family, or diminish the importance of Geoff's relationship with John.”

“Whilst we would have loved to have put all of (the footage) to air, unfortunately we had to cut a lot of time out of the footage to get it into a one-hour slot on the network,” he said.

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