Heacham club marks Ruby anniversary with special event

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Heacham Judo Club celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend.The club was formed in 1984 by Derek Skipper and his wife Joy at the small Pine Trees Hall in the village.Less than a year later, they boasted their first AJA National squad member, qualifying to take part in a competition, in Rotterdam, when meeting Lau Almekinders and the other coaches from JC Middelharnis.This marked the start of a long and fruitful relationship between them with the clubs visiting one another each year for a weekend of judo training and competition.Heacham held their first international competition at the old Kit Kat Club in Hunstanton, on a cold October in 1987. Five years later as the club continued to grow, they moved to a new venue at the village Public Hall, which gave them space for more members and more mats.In 1996 after continued success with the club, Derek Skipper sadly passed away. The club was then continued by his daughter Shirley with the help of other instructors. In 1998, members took part in the AJA National Team competition for the first time, bringing home a bronze medal while the annual competition with JC Middelharnis was renamed the Derek Skipper Memorial in his memory.In 2004, the club had its first brothers to win gold and silver at the AJA National competition in Birmingham. 2007 was our best result in the competition, with three golds and two silvers.They attended the National Open later that year and returned home with two golds and a silver for the first time. The growth continued over the next five years with great success at competitions while members gained instructing, coaching, refereeing and timekeeping awards along the way.In 2015/16, Harry Sands and Josh Chilvers, who have gone on to become senior club coaches, gained their Dan grades. The coaches teach pupils different aspects of judo, including throws, ground holds, and submission techniques and apply them in fights and grading situations to progress through their belt grades to achieve one day the much sought-after black belt.From then until 2020 the club attended various competitions, training sessions with Olympic squad members and events, achieving great results. The club has already secured its first medal of the year with a silver at the National championships and children are continuing to achieve advancements in their grades. Two weeks before their anniversary event, Derek’s wife and Shirley’s mum Joy passed away after watching the club grow from a distance under Shirley and Jeff’s stewardship while granddaughter Shannon has become more involved in the running of the club.The club some amazing achievements over time, building some lifelong friendships here and in Holland with the Middelharnis Judo Club, who will be part of the weekend celebrations.This year’s Derek Skipper Memorial takes place on Saturday with a training session delivered by Nadia Swinkels, who competes in the World Championship Juniors for her home country in Holland.Heacham Judo Club thanks Sam Pishorn, of PG&M, Wayne Proctor, of Proctor Roofing, Jason Richardson, of Adventurefit Rocks, Heacham Youth and Community Trust, Heacham Sports and Social Club Charity, Heacham Football Club, and the AJA South Eastern Area for sponsoring the anniversary event.

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