Stonehaven Judo Club will mark 35 years of bringing the martial art form to the town this month with a celebration dinner.
Founded in 1981 by Ian Guthrie, part of the British Olympic squad at the 1972 Games in Munich, The club currently has around 20 members and is open to all ages from 5 to 105.
Classes take place at the Beach Pavilion in Stonehaven, the iconic green hut on the front which has been the club’s home since 1985.
Speaking to the Leader, Stonehaven Judo Club head coach Stuart Sim, who joined the club at the age of nine in 1993, says the club is looking for the dinner to be a fitting tribute to the work put in by all past and present members.
He said: “Every November we give out two awards, the Ian Guthrie Award and the Jessie Hutcheon Memorial Award which are given to the most improved male/female players.
“For us these are a very important link to the club’s past and a fitting tribute to the work they put in.
“This year we decided to hold a celebration dinner at The View at Stonehaven Golf Club and include everyone as part of the celebration.
“I never envisaged when I joined that I’d be here nearly 25 years later running the club and having had the experiences that this sport has given me.
“Personally this milestone is a massive thing, we are one of the oldest clubs in Scotland and we have still managed to retain the ethos of hard work and respect that the club was built upon.
“Since I took charge of the club along with my assistant coach Mike in 2012 we have always maintained that we are just custodians, we are keen that all of our members and their parents feel valued as part of the club and that their input is always welcome.”
Stuart also spoke about some of the clubs biggest achievements over the past 35 years and some of the challenges he has faced running the club.
“Producing over 40 Dan grades has been outstanding, a rate of one a year on average is a pretty good feat for a club of our size.
“We’ve also, as a club, been over to Japan three times and we’ve developed some great relationships with clubs over there.
“Funding is obviously the biggest challenge, and all the money the club raises through mat fees is invested back into the club through equipment and ongoing CPD for our coaches.
“In addition, we were extremely fortunate that Specialist Valve Services of Westhill offered to sponsor the club which allowed us to order some new mats.
“A lot of time goes into planning lessons, helping the kids achieve their next grade etc or get them ready for tournaments so there’s obviously a time management aspect too.
“We’ve also worked hard at building relationships with other clubs, notably Ultimate Judo in Aberdeen with whom we took a group of kids to Japan last October.”
“The dream for a coaching perspective is to coach a British champion that’s come out of the Stonehaven club, it’s been done before so there’s no reason it cannot be done again.
“Hopefully there will be a time when we will have our own permanent home and be able to put on more classes, but more importantly I hope that in another 35 years there will be a group of coaches running the club who have come through the ranks like myself and taken things on.”