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Hullbridge Village History

The History of Riverside Gymnastics Club

Index of Names

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q  R   S   T   U   V   W   X  Y   Z

SurnameIndividual's NameDate of joiningAge at joiningDate of leavinghAge at leaving
Bliss Carol
Brown Ruth
Caton Trudi
Chance Stephanie
Deare Julie
Harris Deena
Holt Katrina
Jarman Cheri
Keep Vicki
Lee Deborah
Moore Tina
Nightingale Tracy
Panton Maria
Quinn Mary
Withers Nicola

The Beginning

Riverside Gymnastic Club 198?
The people in this photo are :-
BACK ROW LEFT to RIGHT:- 1) Mrs Gladys Chart, 2) ? , 3) ? , 4) ? , 5) ? , 6) ? , 7) ? ,
NEXT ROW LEFT to RIGHT:- 8) ? , 9) ? , 10) ? . 11) ? , 12) ? , 13) ? , 14) ? , 15) ? .
FRONT LEFT to RIGHT:- 16) ? , 17) ? , 18) ? , 19) ? , 20) ? .
Photo courtesy of Ruth Wisewell

Many villagers were aware of the Gymnastics Club but did not know who they were, where they were and especially what they did every week. They read about their sucess in local newspapers and so it is lucky we have the following recollection by Ruth Wisewell (nee Brown) posted on HMH Facebook Group 5 March 2014
" It started at Riverside Junior School, not sure what year but must have been early 70s as I'm sure I was 5 when I started and I was born in 66. My sister had already been going and I used to do it at home until I was able to start. Passed first BAGA badges on first day.
The club was run by Gladys Chart and the then deputy head teacher John Thayer. The club started in the Primary school with very little equipment.
My Dad made the beam and horse! The transport used to get the beam to the school was old pram wheels. I remember pushing it along Ferry Road.
We had to join with Basildon Gym club to use their facilities until Park Sports Centre opened and the club relocated. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years in that gym!

She also advised
I spent most of my time training from age 5 to 16 so spent a lot of time with Glad.
My mum (Eunice Brown) helped coach too and we were able to kick off the Riverside Gymnastics name in the competition world.
It will be difficult to state specific details of competitions as there were too many. One that sticks out for me was in Potters Bar and for some reason I have never liked that place's name. I think it was one of my first competitions so it obviously made an impression on me! Competition days were always an early start and a lot of travelling. (not good for car sickness). The most prestigious for me was getting through to Thames TV Gymnast of the year. However I did not continue as I was losing heart and realised I had reached my ability limits and was struggling with injuries to knees and slipped disc.

At about age 12 I gained a scholarship to train for a week a Lilleshall National Sports Centre. First person in our club to get this but I'm sure there were many more.
I was more impressed that the England Cricket Team were there the same week AND they had the first "Astro Turf" in the country. This was a great acheivement for Gladys as a coach.
Our colours were navy blue and gold. Very frumpy leotards until the fantastic invention of lycra!

Whilst still at junior school, a couple of us, myself and Tracy Nightingale, used to be picked up in a taxi straight from school and taken to Rayleigh where we were met by another club coach from Basildon Gym Club. We trained at their gym in a Laindon school as they had better facilities. We competed for them too but eventually had to choose just one club. I stayed with my roots!
Our main competitors were Basildon and Loughton.

I trained once a month for Essex Squad with the Loughton trainers who went on to become our Olympic Coaches, Christine and Colin Steele.
Christine now does the TV comentating. Squad training was awful, I often ached the next day until the next months session! I was lucky enough to find a very best friend through gymnastics, Faye Mertens who went to Loughton. She was a fantastic gymnast and certainly put me to shame! One memory that might cause a giggle for those who remember......we had a male disco dancing champion come to the gym at Park - we had to teach him how to do backflips. Lets just say it was hillarious.

There was only a couple of us who had to go to Basildon. There were no "A Bars" at the school back then and if we were to enter competitions, we'd have to do the 4 pieces of aparatus. I presume Gladys just had an arrangement with Basildon coach David Eagling who was also a headteacher. Strange man in a royal blue adidas tracksuit bagging at knees. Not a good look and scarred me for life. It took me years to like adidas suits because of him and that grained in vision lol. I suppose by the time other people were competition ready, we had our own equipment. Thats why we had to choose clubs as couldnt compete for two.

It then moved to Park Sports Centre and I believe to behind Makro once "Park" closed. Not sure if there was anywhere else inbetween "Park" closing, it was after my time. I did visit the unit with my daughter but she's no gymnast thankfully. It ruins the body!

Going slightly off subject, there was quite a few years where "Park" School was very lucky in their gym team. Had nothing to do with school at all as it was made up almost entirely of Riverside members. The school thought they were brilliant winning the local schools competitions lol. Little unfair realy hsha. Same applied to Trampolining, funny enough most of the team were gymnasts!
We often used the trampoline at "Park" for training, especially their harness to learn twists and double backs!

I remember trips to Wembley watching the Romanian and Russian gymnasts like Olga Korbet, Nelli Kim and my favourite Ludmilla Torisheva. A brass band played fanfare at beginnings and there was specific music when teams marched between aparatus when "moving on". There was a style that had to be followed at all competition levels. The music for our floor routines in the early days had to be piano only and 1 and a half minutes. This proved quite difficult with our lack of technology. We used to tape a radio programme on a Sunday night playing classical piano music trying to capture suitable pieces. Then there was the task of editing it to the appropriate time. The things we had to do lol. How times have changed!

Some member names for you:- Tina Moore, Trudi Caton, Maria Panton, Tracy Nightingale, Stephanie Chance, Deana Harris, Katrina Holt, Vicki Keep, Deborah Lee (was it her dad who had the sports shop? I remember him having a connection with gym club somehow - I bought my running spikes from him lol).

It's embarrassing that when talking, people in the village still say "oh yes, you did gymnastics". This happened just last week when my mum was talking to someone. Surely it will stop one day lol. Trouble is, Hullbridge people tend to stay in Hullbridge.
I work in the Primary School office and still see parents coming through who I was at school with! Some are now back as grandparents too! Feeling my age now lol.

Been rethinking lol. I dont think "Park" had closed before moving premises. Problem was we had to move with the times for sprung flooring etc., that could be left out permanently unlike equipment at "Park".


Kathy Withers posted on HMH Facebook Group 5 March "Our daughter Nicola went to Riverside Gymnastics about 1992 with her friend Cheri Jarman. It was on the industrial site near Markos."