AN APPROPRIATELY-named and passionate volunteer at a gymnastics club has reflected on four decades of success.
Stan Buckley, who has been at the helm of the Buckley Gymnastics Club for the past 37 years, said he will serve the community “until he is carried out in a box”.
The club was opened in 1974 by Llewelyn Evans, a former PE teacher at Elfed High School, Buckley.
Three years later Mr Buckley, 68, took over the running of the club, which has since doubled in size and boasts 100 members.
He said if he had sufficient accommodation the club could have up to 500 members as demand is “extremely high”.
Since opening, the group has split into separate clubs – with classes for girls and boys.
On Saturday, more than 200 gymnasts past and present joined forces at Deeside Leisure Centre to mark the 40th anniversary of the club, celebrated by the Buckley Girls Gymnastics Club.
Mr Buckley said he is proud of the club’s success.
He has seen club members go on to represent their country on the biggest stage, including members taking part in the Commonwealth Games, representing Great Britain in the World Student Games and seeing 28 members take part in the Welsh Internationals.
Mr Buckley said: “It has been a success story. Gymnastics is the mother of physical education – all sport is derived from gymnastics.
“It is great for the local community.”
He has had the opportunity to visit eight countries with the club taking part in various
Mr Buckley, who was awarded the Welsh Coach of the Year title in 1988, has seen the club grow over the years and offer opportunities to children aged three to 16.
At the weekend the club celebrated its ruby anniversary with a gala performance from its current gymnasts.
Former coaches and dignitaries including Lord Barry Jones and his wife Lady Janet arrived to show support, along with Welsh Gymnastics chairman Helen Phillips.
Ms Phillips thanked the club and paid tribute to Mr Buckley for “aiding the promotion of gymnastics across Wales and internationally”.
On Friday a competition was held to mark the end of a five-day training camp which saw gymnasts from Bangor Gymnastics Club and Twisters Club in Londonderry, Ireland, take part.
They were joined by international gymnastics coach Walter Consinni from Milan, who has played a key part in the development of Buckley’s gymnasts and coaches for more than 30 years.
Former Welsh gymnast Kathy Cox and Commonwealth Games commentator and former Buckley gymnast Lisa Gannon were present.
Olympic gold medalist and current judge on BBC One’s Tumble, Nadia Comaneci, sent in a message of support which was played to the gala audience, saying: “Happy 40th anniversary to Buckley Gymnastics Club, have a great party.”
The gymnasts opened the Buckley gala with a re-creation of the floor routine by Olga Korbut in the 1972 Olympics. This was performed to the original soundtrack, with commentary presented by 11-year-old Amelia Bourne from Mold.
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