Waiting game in early days
When people in Southwell were first encouraged to try their hand at badminton up to 20 players queued to use the single court that was available.
That was back in the mid-1970s when badminton sessions were held in the Minster School’s gym.
Southwell Leisure Centre Badminton Club, now in its 25th season, was established out of the initiative to get more people involved in the sport.
The only surviving member from those early days is the club secretary, Mr John Tarry (69) of Honing Drive, Southwell.
Mr Tarry, a retired Staythorpe Power Station engineer, still plays up to five times a week and is involved in all of the club’s activities.
He said the popularity of the sessions was illustrated by people’s willingness to wait to play on the school court.
When a sports hall was built at Southwell Leisure Centre in 1983, the players decided to form an official club that would be recognised by the Nottinghamshire Badminton Association.
The group had connections with a club based at the Victoria Leisure Centre in Nottingham.
Members of the Nottingham club encouraged players from Southwell to compete in the county badminton league and also provided coaching.
Southwell Leisure Centre Badminton Club now has three mixed teams, two men’s teams and a women’s team in county leagues.
Last year a separate men’s team entered the Newark and District Badminton League and gained promotion to division three in their first season.
Mr Tarry said the most significant progress they had made in the last 25 years was setting up a development group to encourage people who would not normally play badminton to join the club.
The scheme was part of a National Badminton Association initiative aimed at providing facilities for a wider range of players, including young people.
Five years on, the development group is still popular and provides coaching for juniors aged from 13 up to senior players in their 50s on Monday evenings.
A beginners’ group has started on Wednesday evenings, from which players can progress to the development group.
The players who compete in the league teams meet on Friday evenings.
Around 70 people in total are regularly involved in club activities.
Mr Tarry said there were plans to provide more courts for members on club nights.
“It is satisfying when you take a step back to look over the 25 years and see what you have helped to create,” he said.