Club Awards Report

Kate Sergent proudly displays her medal after the York Marathon, where she had been selected to represent her country.
On Saturday we had the Club’s Awards night held at Stratford High School, where some 300 of you packed out the main hall.

This event also doubled as a celebration of our club’s 40th anniversary.

You will see below Paul Bearman’s introductory speech, which also includes a brief history of our 40 years. There is also a full list of the awards.

It’s worth remembering that in those 40 years, just 21 members have been inducted in to the club’s Hall of Fame. This is an honour bestowed on members who represent their country. Kate Sergent, one of this elite group, was representing her country at the York Marathon last Sunday and we have a report on this.

There is also a report on Ryan Bakewell competing in the Chelmsford Marathon. On Saturday Ryan was named as the Most Improved Male Senior Athlete of the Year and on Sunday he more than justified that recognition.

There’s also a report on the first of this season’s Winter Series race, in which almost 40 members competed.

Finally, for senior members, there’s a couple of “save the date” reminders for this year’s Christmas Party and Christmas Run.

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Best Wishes

David Jones.

Yorkshire Marathon/ Masters International.

Report – Phil Brennan.

Almost every week, someone from the club runs a marathon somewhere in this country or abroad. It happens so often that it is sometimes easy to overlook the sheer effort and dedication, together with a certain amount of luck, which it takes to finish the distance.

On this occasion, it was Kate Sergent’s turn. As one of the best in the country in her age group, she was representing England Masters for the third time in a match against a home nations team.

Kate’s preparation had been affected by lack of training partners on the long runs but despite this she finished the scenic race around York in a chip time of 4:50:44, 9th in category, another major achievement.

Kate said afterwards “I was lucky to get to the start line, as I had throat virus all week, and disappointed that it was slower than my last two outings. On reflection, though, it was the same time I ran in New York ten years ago and the whole thing was a wonderful experience”.

Ryan Bakewell (left)
Chelmsford Marathon.

Ryan Bakewell in his own words.

My race weekend started with a message from Sarah Bland asking if I was attending the award ceremony on Saturday. We’d already meticulously planned the logistics to get down to Chelmsford during our toddler’s nap time and stay with my in-laws, so unfortunately I couldn’t go.

She then told me I’d bagged the ‘most improved Male’ award, which I was super stoked about! Thank you so much to SAC for the support and recognition.

However this felt like a bit of a double edged sword at the time, as it meant there was some pressure to deliver on Sunday morning!

My training for this marathon had gone well but the maranoia had firmly set in the week leading up to the race – I was convinced I’d forgotten how to run and all my muscles were broken!

This was a family event for me with my brother-in-law Alex (who wasn’t racing.. more on this later) and his partner Emily also taking part.

Chelmsford Marathon is a small event with just over 600 runners and a good contingent of charity runners running for the local hospice, who organise the run.

It starts in town and weaves out to the countryside where it loops through some beautiful villages before coming back in to Central Park and finishing where the local parkrun is held.

The course was undulating but with no big hills, it rolled up and down most of the way. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a long run in the countryside – it’s the polar opposite experience to London!

I set out at 7:30 pace and hoped to maintain it right the way through to the end. It was quiet out on the route with a few people to lock on to but in truth it felt like a solo run for the last 6miles.

My family managed to see me at 10 and 18miles which was great and gave me a big boost. The support for the last 3miles was good too, with many locals lining the park.

As I pushed on through 20 miles I couldn’t help but think about the ‘most improved’ award and really honouring it by getting a 30+ minute improvement on my last effort in Chester last year. This was just the motivation I needed.

The last three miles were tough and by mile 25 I was feeling tired – I was now pacing 40 seconds down on target but I knew I had a bit in the bag so I wasn’t too worried. Crossing the line in 3:15:54 felt amazing. I’m still pinching myself now as I can’t really believe it!

Just after getting my medal, I was pleased to find out Alex had won the race (not racing…) in 2:39 and a bit later Emily came through with a PB of 3:53. 2 PBs and a win; a good day all round!
Senior club members at Ilmington.

Tempo Winter Series – Race 1.

Report – Phil Brennan.

The village of Ilmington plays host to this annual series of 10k road races every month through the autumn and winter.

Numbers are restricted to respect the village environment but the 300 entries are highly sought after.

The first in the series took place in calm autumn weather but even so the course was challenging. The steep climb up Lark Stoke Hill, the highest point in Warwickshire, comes within 2 kilometres of the start and in the later stages the steep descent into Ilmington can play havoc with tired legs and backs.

No less than 37 runners from Stratford AC were up for the challenge, with several more team mates marshalling and cheering them on.

Matt Burdus-Cook showed exactly why he was voted the club’s Athlete Of The Year with a storming 2nd overall place in 37:48.

The next 16 finishers for Stratford were all under the 50 minute mark.

Ivan Sarti (41:25) saw off a close challenge from Richard Liggett (41:29) and John Raby (41:43), the three of them taking 10th, 11th and 12th places.

Having beaten over thirty of his younger club mates, Sarti was a shoo-in for the M55 category prize.

Ade Mason, 43:09, 19th, continued his busy racing programme, followed by Dan Lynch, 43.11, 21st, Seth Turner, 43:18, 22nd, Malcolm Bowyer, 44:21, 27th and second M55, Chris Cond, 44:42, James Coy, 44:49, Max Ross, 45:08, Mark Hateley, 45:13 and Graham Hill, 46:07.

International triathlon star Emma Bexson, 46:18, was first Stratford lady finisher, 53rd overall and 6th female, she finished alongside David Smythe who record the same time.

John Bettles, 47:39, Carl James, Clare Weatherhead, 49:20 and Amy Hinton, 49:12, beat the 50 minute barrier, with Luke Watkins, 50:22, unlucky to just miss out.

Phil Brennan, 53:14, 1st M75, was unaware of Daniel Hodgkin, 53:16, just behind him but keen to see off the challenge of Tony Tomecek, 54:19, and Rebecca Pridham, 55:07, herself under pressure from Simon Curran, 55:14.

Kimberley Lee, 55:20, Louise Stewart, 56:04, and Richard Hartwell, 59:05, came in under the hour, with Louise still managing to look cheerful at the finish.

The remaining SAC stalwarts to meet the challenge were Neil Robertson, 1:02:51, Gabriella Porter, 1:04:53, Clare Eynon, 1:05:00, Tom Horbury, 1:05:31, Stuart Macleod, 1:05:33, Alice Baxendale, 1:09:29, Paul Nash, 1:13:05, Gemma Smith, 1:13:35, and John Butler, 1:20:42,

The Stratford team posed for one of the biggest group photos of the year, confident at having overcome one of the sternest challenges in the local running calendar.

Club members circa 1984.
Allan Coldicott back in the day – the fifth Beatle ??
As talented a group of young athletes as you’re ever likely to see anywhere !
The Annual Awards and 40th Anniversary celebration.

Report – Paul Bearman.

Below is the welcoming speech that Paul gave to open the proceedings. He then went on to give a brief history of our club’s 40 years

” Good evening everyone and welcome to our 40th Anniversary Club Award’s to celebrate another hugely successful year right across the club.

This evening we will be celebrating the successes and achievements of the people throughout our club and at this point I would like to introduce our special guests…

I think it’s very appropriate that Barbara Wood who is the wife of the club’s founding father Allen Wood is with us

On a return visits we also have as guests two big supporters of our club and we in turn are big supporters of their organisations……

  • Gwil Price – who is the driving force behind schools athletics in Warwickshire and beyond.
    • Gwil was the Director of Sport at Princethorpe for many years and was awarded an MBE for services to education and sport.

Becky Freeman – who is the President of Warwickshire County Athletics

And all the way from his bolt hole in Menorca is the club President John Dell and with him are 2 of his long term helpers from the early days of the club Graham and Gary Collins.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the tremendous amount of raffle prizes. This year we have agreed to support 2 charities close to home and that is prostate and breast cancer so please dig deep.

SUAAC 1979 to 2019

As well as celebrating our latest achievements over the last year 2019 is the 40th anniversary of the Stratford upon Avon Athletics Club and we think that’s a milestone well worth celebrating.

Although we have folks here this evening whose involvement in the club goes back a lot further than my 26 years, I’m going to try and give a pretty rapid overview of where we’ve come from to where we are today and with an eye on well into the future.

It’s a personal view from how I’ve been able to research it and seen things change over the years and admittedly with a bit of bias towards the juniors and T&F!

The club was started by Allen Wood in 1979 and based at the old high school. It filled a vacuum in the town and surrounding area for an athletics club and had its ethos of being a club for all” but in later years when we obtained Sport Englands Clubmark in 2004 we adopted a more comprehensive equality policy that is we are :

a club for all, irrespective of age, ability, gender, race, ethnicity, religious belief, sexuality or social/economic status

That remains true to this day. It is the essence of what this club is all about and it’s the strong core of what makes Stratford such a great club to be a part of.

Allen left the club in the mid-1980s and a chap called Jim Bayliss took over as Chair, John Dell became secretary and Graham Collins remained as treasurer, a post he held for 20 years.

The club slowly became more established through the mid to late 1980’s and during that time they merged with a running group called Stratford Striders and a junior section for 8 to 16 years olds was formed by John with Graham and Gary Collins as co pilots. They, like the rest of us over the years, had to learn what and how to coach from a standing start.

Membership slowly increased across the seniors through the 1980’s and road races were regularly organised and the small junior section started to get involved in competitions too.

John then led the hugely significant step for the development of the club by finding a permanent home and that became the Home Guard club in Tiddington.

It started with a grass track and subsequently funds were raised and using John’s contacts a tarmac track was laid that is still used by our triathletes.

During this time a youngish Paul Hawkins joined in 1988 after moving to Stratford from his native Cumbria with his family and his twin boys Malcolm and Neil who became stalwarts of the juniors and later for the seniors ….more of Paul later.

I moved to Stratford in 1992 and got involved with the club in 1993 after taking my daughter Lauren and 6 of her friends from Thomas Jolyffe along to the club on the recommendation of their teacher. One of them Ryan James became our first Hall of Fame inductee.

For personal reasons John decided retirement in the sun in Menorca was required and he handed me the baton to run the juniors for the past 25 years.

During my early time with Graham Collins as my right hand man I recall the seniors had a few other Chairmen and from the outside looking in they had a “steady” membership but weren’t growing and in fact looked to be stagnating, whereas the juniors numbers were steadily increasing.

For both Paul and I this period was significant because it was the beginning of my focus on building the juniors and latterly, when Paul took over as Chair 5 years later, the transformation of the seniors started and so the focus changed to building the whole club not just bits of it based on the foundations laid by Allen and John.

.We only had Wednesdays as a training night and over the years we now have training groups on seven days of the week of one sort or another across the club.

John had introduced the multi event ethos into the juniors and used the AAA 5 Star scoring system and we still use a modified version of it for our Club Championships.

Talking of Club Championships…the first one we went to was at the Leamington track and John had the children parade along the home straight with one of the lads holding a broom with the Union Jack attached to it and Land of Hope and Glory blaring out over the tannoy.

We used to get about 40 or so athletes competing in the Champs but in recent years it’s gone up to circa 150 and for a club with over 500 members there’s still a lot more room for others to get involved.

The Home Guard club obviously had its limitations compared to other club’s facilities but Ryan James’ dad Jake and I dug the long jump pit and installed makeshift shot and discus circles with the help of Jewsons and things started taking shape as a reasonably well equipped club, with hand me downs from other clubs like a High Jump bed.

Every winter training session on the dark nights we had to drag out halogen lights on scaffold poles that I persuaded one of my work contractors to provide, with long leads that we had to roll out from the pump house. The same goes for the High Jump mats that that we had to drag out. Mice took a fancy to these for their nests. We also did a yearly remarking of the track, using a contraption built by one of our senior members.

While this was all happening the Home Guard committee were regularly moaning about the juniors, for one thing or another but what was starting to happen was that we were showing shoots of success in competitions, something that has obviously continued and snowballed over the years.

The Home Guard committee moaned once too often to me about the kids and so I set about looking for a new home in the town that schools would have access to and also for it to be used for the community.

After a chance conversation with my work colleague Councillor Peter Moorse, the ball started rolling inexorably towards a project that became our all-weather track, funded by the excellent support we have had from the Town Trust, the District Council and our own fund raising.

Subsequently the pavilion was built after enduring an onerous bidding process with the Town Trust but once again they saw what we were doing in the community and funded the build, which alongside our own fund raising, enabled us to complete what is now our home.

It’s a long way from the Home Guard club.

Another significant move around the same time was when the seniors moved their headquarters to Stratford Sports Club, which has a far better town centre location and facilities…..including clean showers that are hot and they work!

Fantastic people who are selfless volunteers have been on board with this journey at different stages over the years and I’m truly blessed to still have many of them as my friends, because without them the juniors and all its success wouldn’t be where it is today.

Now back to this bloke from Cumbria, Paul Hawkins. He took over the reins of the seniors when it looked to be flagging without too much direction and he has led the transformation into the wonderful friendly, welcoming, successful and competitive group it is today.

Paul and I share a pretty similar philosophy about what we try and achieve – one club with one vision and the well-being and support for our athletes, to enable them to be the best they can be. This comes first above everything else.

An illustration of this is that the juniors had for many years their presentation evening similar to this but on a far smaller scale. The seniors had a less formal approach to presenting their awards and in the early days it was usually on a club night or a weekend and latterly on a social occasion like a Christmas do.

We thought we should have one event and so for several years we have been together to share the achievements and successes of our athletes across the whole club.

To complement our traditional Track and Field, Road Running and Cross Country activities, in recent times our wonderful T&F Vets team has emerged and the Triathlon section has been formed and is gradually growing and achieving success through their juniors and seniors. So all in all we are pretty well now a complete club in every sense and in pretty good shape.

Over the years I have spoken to Paul about the most significant things that have helped the club progress and he agrees that what has been the same for John previously and me in the juniors, without doubt are the selfless volunteers across the club who have been the major and most significant part of the transformation and growth, some to a greater extent than others.

It’s made us the wonderful, friendly, welcoming, respected, successful and competitive group that we are now today and without the people, vision and leadership the club probably wouldn’t exist in its present form today and almost certainly not to its current level and status.

That’s a very brief whizz through 40 years and as my old history teacher used to say “we learn from the past and where we’ve come from but it’s the present and future that we need to continually focus on”.

A full list of awards made on the night are listed below.

A special presentation was also made to Paul Hawkins in recognition of his 20 years service as club chairman.

The raffle held on the night raised some £400 for Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer charities.

Juniors Awards.

Most Supportive Under 11

Female – Annie Silvers, Male – Ewan Sparrow

Most Supportive Under 13

Female – Tilly Campbell, Male – Tom Weaver

Most Supportive Under 15

Female – Esmay Baughan, Male – Joel Milner

Most Supportive Under 17 & 20

Female – Emily Wild, Male – Alex Powell

Most Committed

Male – Nick Butler, Female – Charlotte Gravelsons

Junior Club Person of the Year

George Fox Rowe

Junior Most Improved

Female – Poppy Fox Rowe, Male – Joshua Roberts

Junior Star of Tomorrow

Male – Freddie Clemons & Alex Adams, Female – Poppy Fox-Rowe

Junior All Round Athlete

Female – Lucy Lane, Male – Freddie Clemons

Junior Cross Country

Female – Georgie Campbell, Male – Alex Adams

Junior Cross Country Most Improved

Female – Tessa Parkin – Male – Adam Taylor

President’s Trophy

Female (300 or 400 m) Imogen Sheppard, Male (400 m) – George Fox-Rowe

Athlete of the Year

Female – Georgie Campbell, Male – Freddie Clemons

Junior Triathlete, TS1/TS2 of the Year – Commitment Josh Harrison

Junior Triathlete, TS3/Youth of the Year – Commitment Josh Angus

Junior Triathlete, TS1/TS2 of the Year – Performance Martha Bullock

Junior Triathlete, TS3/Youth of the Year – Performance Charley Marshall

Seniors & Juniors

Hall of Fame Andrew Reeves

Outstanding Achievement Lewis Byng


Senior Athlete of the Year

Female -Emma Bexson, Male – Matt Burdus Cook

Chris Claxton Trophy – Tara Lambert

Cross Country Runner of the Year

Female – Emily Adams, Male – Josh Newman

Grand Prix Shield

Female – Beverley Brigden, Male – Peter Sugden

Most Improved Athlete

Female – Sarah Vernon, Male – Ryan Bakewell

Track & Field Athlete of the Year

Female – Paula Williams, Male – Peter Coote

Triathlete of the Year

Female – Emma Bexson, Male – Rich Shepherd

Triathlon Grand Prix Trophy

Female – Caroline Gionis, Male – James Purdy

Most Improved Triathlete of the Year

Female – Victoria Jeffs, Male – Sam Wignell

Personality of the Year – Sally & Gavin Bliss

Shakespeare Shield

Female – Emma Bexson, Male – Josh Newman

Club Championships – Winners

Female U11 Tessa Parkin, Male U11 Ethan Winning

Female U13 Lucia Cassidy, Male U13 Seb Hillard

Female U15 Lucy Lane, Male U15 Freddie Clemons

Female U17 Millie Leighton, Male U17 Ollie Wear

Female U20 Imogen Sheppard, Male U20 Mathew Millward-Brookes

Senior Female Paula Williams, Senior Male Dave Battersby

Here you will see a youngish Malcolm Bowyer, Allan Coldicott, Richard Dobedoe, Paul Hawkins and John Turner joining the juniors….and they’re all still going strong in the club.

Above – The club’s early tarmac track at the Home Guard club in Tiddington
Below – The first Club Championships held in Leamington
Save the Dates.

This is an early warning to make you aware a couple of the senior members’ annual Christmas activities to enable you to put the dates in your diaries.
A message from the estimable Graham Black

The weather has clearly changed, the leaves are changing colour and starting to drop…this can only mean one thing…?

Tickets will soon be on sale for

The Club Christmas Party.

Your first action is to get the date into your diary, on your phones calendar and a big notice pinned under your fridge magnet!




The Club’s Christmas Run.

Kate Sergent and I will be organising the Christmas Run again this year.

Kate will be hosting it at her and Martyn’s house

16 Limes Avenue
Stratford upon Avon
CV37 9BQ



More details to follow.