A local athletics club has been rewarded with a prestigious regional gong for bucking the trend and growing their membership.
While many organisations are struggling for numbers, Buxton Athletics Club have increased their overall membership by 33 per cent in the past year.
That and their diverse sporting provision for both junior and senior athletes impressed the England Athletics Regional Awards panel, who crowned them East Midlands Club of the Year.
The award ceremony took place last Friday at the Quorn Grange Hotel in Loughborough.
Club chairman Chris Bent, a founding member of Buxton AC in 1977, was over the moon with the award.
“I am really proud to be a member of such an inspirational, friendly, inclusive, welcoming and award winning athletics club,” he said.
In their 29th year, Buxton have involved themselves in everything from park runs to cross country, track and field, fell running and junior athletics.
They’ve funded training for two licensed guide runners for the visually impaired, two fell running coaches and two additional run leaders to join their team of seven qualified coaches.
In competition, Buxton celebrated impressive results in English Junior and Senior Fell Championships, county level cross country and won track medals, with individuals starring at local, national and international levels.
Buxton AC junior section had four athletes selected to represent England at National level and 24 club records were broken this year.
One of the biggest coups was attracting 84 new members through the ‘Target 5k’ initiative, aimed at those taking a first step into running.
That brought a huge increase to the club’s membership at a time when many clubs have seen a drop in participation.
Rachel Dowle is one of the club’s junior coaches.
She believes the award was well deserved.
“It’s recognising all the work we’ve been doing over the last few years,” she said.
“It’s been a very successful year for the juniors.
“One of the things talked about at the ceremony was how difficult it had been for a lot of clubs with getting memberships steady, and ours has actually gone up in junior and senior sections.
“That and our ability to do well at national and regional level shows we’ve managed to keep momentum, despite the club being 30 years old next year.
“We’re still going from strength to strength.”
Judges were also impressed by the club’s after-school clubs, a satellite fell club, and a free monthly 5km event that has raised over £5k for charities this year.
To cap a fine year, they successfully applied for Clubmark, proving their commitment to providing a high quality and safe environment to improve talent and initiate life-long participation in sport.
Sheila and Jim Bradley are long both standing members, with the latter serving as lifetime president.
Club secretary Sheila said: “We are so proud to have seen Buxton Athletics Club go from strength to strength over the decades, that we have been members, and now to be part of the amazing success of the Club deserves so well is hugely satisfying.”
Buxton AC are also finalists in the High Peak Club of the Year and Junior Team of the Year.