Ralph Clark, then a geography teacher at the town’s Beretun Secondary School, formed the club in the mid 1950’s. Ralph was also the handicapper for the area in the days when many village shows often included handicap athletic events. He was usually the referee at such events as he was also a grade 2 (level 3) track judge.
Over the years the club has produced a number of outstanding athletes. Douglas Stones won the English Schools Junior Boys 1500 metre title in 1979 in a time of 4min 04.8 sec a time which is still the English Schools record and was then a world age group best time. This time still places him 7th on the UK all time list (2009). He also was second in the English Schools Cross Country Championships; won the Schools International Cross Country; won the Counties Athletic Union Inter County Cross Country Under 15 Boys’ title; won Eastern Counties Youths cross Country title. Doug then concentrated on the steeplechase winning further English Schools titles.
Richard Hill won the English Schools Senior Boy 400m Hurdles before going on to win the British Universities title at 400m. He followed this up with two successive titles in the UK Counties Athletic Union Championships at 400m. Richard was a member of the 4 x 400m relay team, which took the gold medal in the European Junior Championships held at Birmingham. His best time was 47.33 seconds set in 1987.
At about the same time Adrian Smith won the AAA Youths 100 metres title and Amanda Salter was second in the English Schools Senior Girls 400m at Portsmouth.
Mark Ding, who was our club’s chairman was promising Junior Steeplechaser who, following a traffic accident, which left him partially disabled, took up the throws. He was a competitor in the Atlanta Para Olympics Discus event.
Bradley Donkin reached the final of the Junior Boys 1500m in the English Schools Championships at Yeovil only to finish last. After this he went out of the sport for about 7 years but was inspired to make a come back when he saw the performances of Curtis Robb who had been in the same race at Yeovil. The culmination of this was Bradley appearing in the Commonwealth Games in 1986 at Kuala Lumpa. In the 800m. He had only just managed to achieve the qualifying time for selection so was not expected to go beyond the first round. In the event Bradley ran out of his socks and progressed to the semi finals again scraping through to the final. Here he ran 1 min 46.86 seconds to take 6th place. Bradley is the only athlete from the club to have won a full senior England (AAA) vest – no one has won a senior UK vest the nearest being Richard Hill’s Under 20 Men’s UK vest.