Havering Athletic Club thriving since reopening after lockdown

Hornchurch and Upminster MP visits athletics club

L-R: Hornchurch and Upminster MP Julia Lopez, Havering Athletic Club secretary Tony Benton, facilities coordinator Trevor Wells and schools liaison officer Sue Deane. - Credit: Julia Lopez MP

Havering Athletic Club has enjoyed a resurgent return after lockdown.

Now open for more than five weeks since March 29, club secretary Tony Benton spoke of a thriving facility: "It has been great since we came back. We have had higher than usual retention for this time of year and over 250 athletes are registered with England Athletics to compete.

"Athletes are highly motivated and are training hard. We hosted an open competition at Hornchurch last Sunday which attracted 300 entrants from our club, all over Essex and further afield." 

The club made contact with Hornchurch and Upminster MP Julia Lopez in February to request her help in encouraging the government to lift the restrictions on athletics as soon as possible.

Having followed the club's progress since then, Ms Lopez dropped in to see how it was faring last week (April 30). 

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She said: "I was delighted to visit Havering Athletic Club and see their training base at Hornchurch Stadium in person.

"The club were in touch with my constituency team during the pandemic as the government formulated its roadmap out of lockdown, and it was fantastic to hear about the tremendous team effort to make sure their training facilities were some of the first to open again."

Havering athletic club enjoying resurgence

Since reopening, the club has experienced higher than usual retention for this time of year, with 250-plus athletes registered to compete with England Athletics. - Credit: Julia Lopez MP

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While delighted to reopen, the club did manage to draw some positives from the enforced closure. 

Tony advised that lockdown allowed the facility to "carry out maintenance improvement works, including a three-yearly track clean, minor patch repairs to the track, routine facility surveys and installing an accessible changing room and toilet".

The latter of these improvements was particularly praised by Ms Lopez, who said the installation would "make sure the club remains open and inclusive to athletes from across the ability and social spectrum".

According to Tony, the biggest effect of consecutive lockdowns has been on young athlete recruitment.

"We have had to close our waiting list, and have only recently been able to bring new athletes into the club from the existing list as we have to carefully manage group sizes under current guidance.

"This will have knock-on impacts on our teams this year."

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