President’s Review of the Year 2015


President’s Review of the Year – 21 November 2015

All of us in Bournemouth Athletic Club tend to operate in our own little spheres, but, when you step back, and view the club’s activities as a whole, it’s just amazing how much we do, and how much we achieve. In Track & Field, we compete in five separate leagues, plus Sportshall and Quadkids for the youngsters, and have representation in National and School competitions; on the road and cross country we are part of one road and two cross country leagues, and our athletes can be seen wearing the blue and yellow vest in races throughout the country and abroad. We host home track & field fixtures, and organise two very successful Open meetings; we host a fixture of the Hampshire Cross Country League, and, this year, organised a successful revival of the Bournemouth 10 mile road race. And every Wednesday evening, 100 to 160 and more children are given the opportunity to experience various athletic activities at the Kings Park stadium.

Turning to Track & Field, one of the two highlights of BAC’s year has undoubtedly been the performance of our British Athletic Leage team. We finished 4th in Division 3 – although we’ve had teams in the National League before, this is the highest point a BAC team has ever achieved, after the longest ever sustained period a BAC team has been in the National League. I went with the team to the final fixture at Yeovil, and, probably typically of the whole season, at that fixture of 7 athletes who achieved Grade 1 performances, four were from BAC – Patrick Sylla, James Lelliott, Dan Brumsden and Alex Cox. Before the match, I was privileged to hear Tim Hughes motivational address, and then the Captain, Kevin Hodgson, inspiring everyone into action – real leadership from Tim and Kevin. I think it’s fair to say the other BAC teams performed solidly, rather than spectacularly. However, there were some amazing individual performances throughout the season. Patrick Sylla, although breaking the club record, just missed out, by 2cm, on selection for the Long Jump for the 2015 U18 World Championships in Columbia, South America, but went on to win Gold Medals at the English Schools Championships and the Sainsbury’s School Games in Manchester. We have another National champion in James Lelliott. James was National U23 England Athletics Champion at Bedford, and in the Long Jump finished ranked 2nd U23 in the country – ranked 10th senior man – and in the Javelin was ranked 7th U23. Another National champion at Bedford was Phoebe Dowson, National U23 Womens’ Champion in the Discus. Phoebe also broke the club’s Hammer Throw record during the year. Another name which kept cropping up during the season was Danielle Broom, Dorset County U17 Discus champion. Danielle, along with Jack Howlett, achieved selection for National Sportshall, and I just couldn’t keep up with the club records she kept breaking (in fact, there were three), and her wins, along with the wins by Ben Dickinson at the YDL Upper fixture at Hillingdon went a long way to securing the team’s second place at the end of the season. Also achieving a club record was Amelia Dobson – the U15 Triple Jump. Yasmin Bridet equalled the Wessex Young Athletes League record for the U13 Girls 70mH. There were a number of ‘man and woman of the match’ awards, including Jamie Williamson SAL at Kingston (High Jump), Sarah Kearsey SAL Kingston (400 mH), and Patrick again SAL Bournemouth (Long Jump). There were various gold medals at the SW Schools Championships, Danielle Broom, Jack Howlett, Ben Dickinson, Rosie Wootten, and silver Madeleine Smith, Cameron Cooke, Jamie Williamson, Muiris Egan, and bronze Lewis Sainval and Matthew Ridge, with Iona Sheerin winning a silver medal at the SE Schools Regional Championships. There were gold medals at the SW Inter-Counties Championships for Elle Ward, Yasmin Bridet, Iona Sheerin, Amelia Dobson, Jack Howlett, Cameron Cooke, silver Gemma Kennard and Oliver Johnson and bronze Lewis Sainval and Madeleine Smith with Abigail Richardson missing bronze by 3 seconds, and Verity Cowell by .03m. At the County Championships there were 29 gold medals, 8 silver medals and 3 bronze medals (see addendum). Congratulations to Janet Dickinson on achieving a world ranking of tenth in her age category in the Heptathlon.

Before I move on to road and cross country, there are a couple of important matters to cover.

Firstly, I want to thank all the members of the Executive Committee, all our coaches, all our officials, all our team managers, all our event organisers. These are the people who devote hours of work in their own time, totally unpaid, and without whom there simply would be no club, no athletics. I would love to mention each individually and describe what they do, but there isn’t time. There are four people, however, I can’t avoid mentioning. We have two SW Regional Award winners. Wynne Munden is the worthy winner of the award for Services to Athletics. Apart from being club secretary, and all the hassle that goes with that, Wynne is always heavily involved in organising and officiating at fixtures, and is one of the organisers of this Presentation Evening. (See below for Wynne‘s nomination) Tony Jones-Pert is the winner of the Volunteer of the Year award. Tony does a huge amount for disabled athletes, and those of us who were at the Special Olympics organised by Tony at Kings Park, seeing athletes from all over the country competing and having a great time, could see the impact of Tony‘s work. (See below for Tony‘s nomination) Jemma Bates is a nationally recognised official. Jemma is often to be seen on TV officiating at highly prestigious events, such as the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games, Commonwealth Games and, of course, the London Olympics. Finally Zac Kerin was selected to be Great Britain Long Jump coach for the U18 team at no less than the IAAF World Championships in Columbia, South America. His selection was well justified as he helped the GB team to 1st European and 4th Worldwide team on a points basis, and one of his athletes, Emily Wright, having changed her Long Jump technique at Zac‘s suggestion, missed bronze by 1 cm, finishing 4th, despite having been ranked 15th. We can do so much to help these people, responding to requests for participation, arriving at the track with our training fees, paying subscriptions when they’re due, etc. – almost everyone does these things, the few who don’t really increase workloads. Often it seems we’re consistently being asked for money – track fees, coach fares, subscriptions, but if I give you some idea of how much it costs to run the club you’ll understand how important it is that these are paid, and paid when they’re due – the net cost of competing in the various leagues, including affiliation, transport, etc., nearly £9,000, almost £5,000 for the use of the track for training nights and Sundays, over £1,600 on equipment, over £2,000 on training our volunteer coaches, and so it goes on.

Secondly, on a sombre note, the club lost a very dear friend in September when Dawn Johnson passed away at a ridiculously early age, having succumbed to her fight against cancer. I went to Dawn‘s funeral at Poole Crematorium; at my time of life it’s more funerals than weddings, and I’ve been to Poole Crematorium a number of times, but I have never seen it so packed with people paying their respects. Although I’ve been a member of this club for nearly 30 years, it’s mostly been road and cross country, and I didn’t really get to know Dawn until a few years ago, when I found myself responsible for organising a fixture of the Hampshire Cross Country League – to this day I don’t know how that came about. I asked Dawn, and Brian, if they’d help with the timekeeping, which they did, and I quickly realised that Dawn was one of those people without whom athletics just would not happen, as indeed is Brian. A little later, I became qualified as a time-keeper – I’d done the course, I had the licence, but it’s only then you start to learn. At my first fixture Dawn was chief time-keeper, and she found herself with a team of rookies like me. She was kind, patient, encouraging, none of us felt belittled when we made mistakes, and of course I got to know Dawn better at subsequent fixtures. One thing which often happened was that there’d be a cry of “Nan” or “Granny” – I can’t remember the exact term, and Dawn and Brian‘s granddaughter, Imogen, would come running up and there’d be hugs, etc. – Dawn very much a family person, and our thoughts are with Brian and the family as they still cope with their loss. But on behalf of Bournemouth Athletic Club I just want to say to Dawn, thank you for being amongst us, thank you for all you did for the club and for athletics generally, and, perhaps most importantly, thank you for having given us the privilege of having known you. At this point it would also be appropriate for us to spare a thought for Hazel and Jemma Bates. Hazel lost her son, Damien, Jemma‘s brother, only a few weeks ago. Hazel does a massive amount for this club. For instance, with Wynne and others, Hazel is the driving force behind the Spring and Autumn Opens, and Hazel has been a big part of the hours and hours spent sorting out the trophies and preparing for this evening. It must be about the worst thing which can happen for a parent to lose one of their children, and our sincerest condolences to you, Hazel and Jemma – we are all here for you.

Moving on – road and cross country. First of all, we welcomed a new captain, Rich Nelson. Particularly amongst the men, the section was becoming rather fragmented, no-one’s fault, just the way it’s evolved, but Rich is doing a grand job bringing everything back together. Nevertheless the men (and the ladies, but I’ll come to the ladies in a moment) have already won the Dorset Road Race League for this year with one race still to go, top of Division 1. Things aren’t quite so rosy in Division 1 of the Hampshire Cross Country League, as things stand we’re looking at relegation, but if that happens the challenge will be to get back to Division 1 next season. There have been some remarkable individual achievements – mostly in the field of Ultra Running. Steve Way, recently the World Champion over 50k, running new course records in the 46 mile Round the Rock Ultra in Jersey and the Salisbury 54321 50k. Jez Bragg, famous in Ultra circles with a number of records, including the Te Araroa Trail from the top of North Island to the bottom of South Island, New Zealand, smashing the record for Ramsay’s Round, a 24 hour mountain challenge from Fort William taking in various Scottish peaks, including Ben Nevis. Pat Robbins representing his country in the World 24 Hour Championships in Italy, part of a GB team which won both European and World gold medals – Pat then went on to win the 32 mile Dorset Doddle from Weymouth to Swanage. Jon Sharkey also representing his country for the second year running in the Anglo-Celtic 100k Plate. Jon was part of the winning England team in a time which was the ‘B’ standard for GB’s World Championship team. Perhaps inspired by Steve, Jez, Pat and Jon, Anthony Clark won the inaugural 35 mile Ox Ultra, Toby Chapman won the Dartmoor Discovery, 32 miles, and Jacek Cieluszecki, having won the Bordeaux Marathon, took on the 7 Valley run, in Poland, 100k off-road, elevation 4500 metres, to finish 11th of 450 finishers, not to mention the withdrawals. Talking of marathons, congratulations to Peter Thompson on his 2 hour 25 minute time in Amsterdam. Turning to the ladies – when I said our BAL team was one of two highlights of our year, the other highlight is definitely our ladies road and cross country team. Their rise and rise has been quite phenomenal. Up to 2012 we had virtually no ladies road or cross country team. During that year the makings of a team started to emerge, and in the Dorset Road Race League in 2013 BAC ladies finished top of Division 2, earning promotion, and the very next year, 2014, they finished top of Division 1, a success they are repeating in 2015. It’s great to see BAC top of Division 1 of the Road Race League, both men and women. It’s all happening in the Hampshire Cross Country League as well. Last season, the ladies missed one fixture, which meant they didn’t score for the season, but Nikki Sandell won the award for 3rd Veteran Lady. However, this season, after two fixtures, the Senior Ladies team lies 6th of 17 complete teams, and, of 8 Veteran Ladies teams, BAC lies 2nd! All this has been achieved by relatively few people working together with a genuine team spirit – much like the BAL team. I’m going to name some names, risky I know. As they say on TV, in no particular order, Nikki Sandell, Gemma Bragg, Caroline Rowley, Heidi Tregenza – then there’s Emma Dews and Louise Price and involved in the build-up of the team Helen Ambrosen and Cherry Sheffrin. Well done – BAC road and cross country ladies! To finish on the road, a big thank you to the team which organised the successful revival of the Bournemouth 10 mile race in March. For years BAC’s road runners have relied on races organised by other clubs, and it does our prestige no end of good at last to offer something back. There was a small organising committee, which included Rich Nelson, Dave Parsons and Steve Cox, but I don’t think anyone would dispute that the majority of the work was done by Ian White and Sam Laws, whose lives were dominated by this event for months, as is happening now in preparation for next February when the race will take place again.

So, there it is, a year in which BAC and its athletes and officers have achieved a great deal and, with an increasing membership, financially secure, excellent coaches and plenty of competition, the future of the club looks very sound indeed.

Now I come to the President’s award. Every Wednesday 100 to 160 or more youngsters come to the track and a team of adminstrators and coaches provide them with a taste of running, jumping and throwing. It is a huge success. The fruits of this success are now being felt by the club, as more youngsters start attending the club’s training sessions, and competing, thanks, in the main, to the efforts of the middle distance coaches, Tom Cochrane, Simon Hearn and Craig Bravington. The evenings are also a major contributor to the club’s finances. It’s a team effort, but the man at the helm is Tom Cochrane, and I’m not even going to attempt to list all he does to keep the enterprise going. In addition, as mentioned, Tom is one of the middle distance coaches, which means he’s at the club every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening. Tom is the club’s coaches representative, and under his guidance and with his persistence the club now has an unprecedented number of coaches and leaders. Tom helps wherever he can – it’s Tom who turns up at 8 am on a freezing winter morning to help lay out the Hampshire Cross Country League course in Kings Park. We did nominate Tom for the SW Regional Coach of the Year award, he would have been a worthy winner – I suspect that the only reason he didn’t was because only recently he won the Regional Services to Athletics award. There are many people in this club who deserve this award, but, having said that, it wasn’t too difficult a decision to present the President’s Award to Tom Cochrane.

Ian Graham


Bournemouth Athletic Club


At the County Championships there were gold medals for James Lelliott, Kevin Hodgson, Tarik Manneh, Gemma Kennard, Elle Ward, Janet Dickinson, Ben Arnold, Yasmin Bridet, Danielle Marshall, Bridget Dence, Cameron Hale, Rosie Wootten, Iona Sheerin, Isabelle Franklin, Joseph Haywood, Angel Kerin, Olivia Galloway, Madeleine Smith, Amelia Dobson, Andrew Turner, Jack Howlett, Adam Phillips, Matthew Ridge, Ben Dickinson, Hannah Saunders, Danielle Broom, Anya Kay, Louise Galloway and Tom Peters. There were silver medals for Finn Parley, Patrick Sylla, Muiris Egan, Rebecca Hannibal, Abigail Richardson, Lewis Sainval, Jasmine Stocker and Conor Charlwood. There were bronze medals for Joseph Haywood, Brandon Meredith and Jim Dence.

Wynne Munden – Nomination by Robin James, Chairman, for Service to Athletics Award

Wynne has been involved with the club since watching her children compete over 25 years ago.

For 15 years she has been one of our senior officials, acting as field referee for home matches and supporting away matches, particularly the Southern Athletics League. She complements her match day role by ensuring copious supplies of hot drinks, whilst encouraging a team of volunteers to prepare sandwiches for other officials. She is one of the reasons most clubs like having a match at Kings Park.

She is one of the team behind the bi-annual Bournemouth Opens, which regularly see over 350 athletes takes part, including an increasing number of Under-11s.

Wynne is club secretary and combines this role with regular office duty. She is at the heart of the club acting as a welcoming first point of contact for new members and their parents. Her warmth and friendliness has encouraged many parents to get involved in the life of the club and become involved in officiating and volunteering.

I am proud to nominate Wynne for a much deserved award as she is a pleasure to work with and a superb ambassador for the club.

Tony Jones-Pert – Nomination by Robin James, Chairman, for Volunteer of the Year Award

Tony Jones-Pert took over running of the Bournemouth and District Special Olympics (BDSO) section of Bournemouth Athletics Club (BAC) 16 years ago. He is supported by a team of 3 coaches, 7 helpers and numerous parents. Tony has developed a close supportive group. He has seen the club grow from 6 to 30 athletes with learning disabilities.

In 2011, the club sent Vicky Coombes to the 2011 World Games. Besides Vicky’s success the club manages to achieve results with members winning medals in local and national competitions and being enabled to socialise and develop friendships. It holds its own open event each year where volunteers from across BAC to help out.

TJP is the linchpin, coordinating dedicated individuals and creating a well run and much respected whole. BDSO is a club which other clubs with Special Needs sections look to emulate. TJP is always happy to provide advice and support, for instance, to local special schools.

The club would survive if he walked away but only because of his hard work, dedication and input over the past 16 years. It would be lovely for this to be recognised by England Athletics.