Stevenage and North Herts Athletics Club celebrates 50th birthday and invites former members to relive the past

Stevenage & North Herts Athletics Club's Sean McGeever winning the 100m wheelchair race. Photo by No

Stevenage & North Herts Athletics Club's Sean McGeever winning the 100m wheelchair race. Photo by Norma Harris - Credit: Archant

When Don Powell joined Stevenage Athletics Club in 1964, all it had was a single running track which couldn’t be used when the weather was bad.

Jack Gladman at the World Juniors

Jack Gladman at the World Juniors - Credit: Archant

That’s a far cry from the all-weather facilities, sheltered stand and changing rooms that have since been built at the Ridlins Park stadium – home to what has since become the Stevenage and North Herts Athletics Club.

Life member Don, 79, said: “Now we have got all these facilities people come from other clubs and really enjoy them.

“They say how nice it is – it’s really appreciated.”

The club was created when the Stevenage group, their opposite numbers in North Herts and the Icknield Harriers all joined forces in 1965.

An old picture of the club.

An old picture of the club. - Credit: Archant

They based themselves at Ridlins Park in Stevenage – then still only offering an old-fashioned cinder running surface – but still attracted many athletes from across the area.

The club has grown and developed steadily over the past five decades, and developing the youth section was a big priority for Don and his wife Margaret.

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The success of their efforts has been demonstrated by runner Jack Gladman, who has progressed through the club’s youth system and is now representng Great Britain as a Paralympic athlete.

Stevenage Borough Council owns the site and added the all-weather track in 1997, before building a stand for spectators in 2004.

In June the club bought its own professional electronic split timer, allowing it to host county events and generate income by renting it out to other clubs.

Looking back, a lot has changed since Don started as a sprinter specialising in the 440 yards event.

He said: “It is wonderful seeing how the club has grown because when I joined all we had was a single running track.

“We didn’t even have changing rooms and now we’ve got all these brilliant facilities.”

On Saturday the club is holding an anniversary games in celebration of its 50th birthday at the stadium from 11am.

Margaret is encouraging anyone ever affiliated to the club or its predecessors to pay them a visit.

She said: “We would love to see old members and supporters.

“Please bring along photos and mementos that you may have.”

The event is being held at the Ridlins Park stadium. Tickets – £10 for adults and £7 for children 12 years and under – are available from Norma Harris on normajharris@hotmail.co.uk.

For more information about the club visit www.snhac.org.uk.

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