Clubbing in Welwyn
PUBLISHED: 21:36 30 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:15 20 February 2013
From four legs to two wheels, Richard Young speaks to two enthusiasts whose lives have been enriched by the Welwyn clubs they belong to
WITH an unstoppable passion for cycling, chairman of Welwyn Wheelers cycle club Peter Waghorn did not let a career-ending injury stop him from being involved with the sport and the club he loves.
When Peter suffered a back injury in 1962, the former racer knew his days of competitive cycling were over. But rather than turn his back on the track, he focussed on helping other riders at the club, and he has been doing just that ever since.
I joined the club in 1957 on coming to live and work in Welwyn Garden City, the energetic 77-year-old explains. When I was forced to stop racing I became an event organiser in order to put something back into the sport. I have been running the track league since 1969.
The club was founded in 1947 by a group of Welwyn cycling enthusiasts to provide both competitive and social enjoyment of the sport. Peter says membership of the club has fluctuated over the years, but right now it is at an all-time high.
In the last few years it has grown to its highest level of around 200 members covering a wide age range from seven to 70 plus, he says. Since the Beijing Olympics the interest in cycling and particularly track riding has increased significantly over all age groups as riders want to become the next Chris Hoy or Vicky Pendleton.
And the club could very well produce some of the new cycling stars of the next Olympics in London in 2012, as two of its members, sisters Emma and Laura Trott, were both selected to represent England at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October.
Laura, 18, became the first Wheelers world champion when she won the Junior Omnium Championship in Italy in August and went on to win the UK National Junior Championships in Newport. Emma, 21, is a road rider who has spent the year in Europe racing for a trade team as well as representing Great Britain. She has also been selected to ride the senior world road championships in Australia this November.
A delighted Peter said their well-deserved success is the result of an immense amount of hard work and training. But he says whether aspiring to be an elite cyclist, or just out on two wheels for fun, it is a great sport for everyone. And with over 50 years at the club, he should know.
Its the enjoyment and exercise in the open air. And the camaraderie among cyclists makes friends for life.
Based at Gosling Sports Park, the club has multiple weekly events throughout the year, including road, track, off-road and cyclo-cross racing. To find out more go to www.welwynwheelers.org.uk
AS a child of Londons East End, Sheila Kelly, secretary of the Hertfordshire Heavy Horse Association based in Old Welwyn, had only ever seen one horse the greengrocers.
That was until she began to visit Shire horse centres with her young son in the 1970s, which started a life-long love affair with these gentle giants.
I happened to mention to a manager where I worked that I enjoyed visiting these centres, the 63-year-old says. He said he owned a heavy horse and I was welcome to see it. He harnessed the horse to a road cart and took me for a ride around the country lanes from that moment I was hooked.
Sheila says she loves to groom the magnificent animals, which include Shires, Suffolk Punch and Clydesdales owned by club members, to get them ready for shows, parades and agricultural days all over the country.
When Im working with the horses the stresses of everyday life seem non-existent. I was once in a field with some horses we were grooming and one of the ones yet to be groomed came up behind me rested his large head over my shoulder and breathed softly, misting up my sunglasses. That was a magical moment.
The club, which meets monthly at the Pavilion in Ottoway Walk for talks and then adjourns to The Steamer pub, was founded in 1993 by a group of heavy horse owners as a way of getting together to share their knowledge. Sheila says since then it has expanded to include many enthusiasts, both horse and non-horse owners, including her partner and grandchildren.
We now have a steady membership of 150 as well as 30 junior members, she says. The aim is to promote the heavy horse its presentation, handling and working, as well as education of the owners and supporters, with a special emphasis on the younger generation.
As well as attending many events nationwide, the club also hosts two shows a year, at Capel Manor College and a steam and country show in Northaw, as well as an annual training day for juniors.
To get involved, give Sheila a call on 01992 554512 or go to www.hhha.co.uk to find out more.
Five more great Welwyn clubs:
Learn how to keep our busy insect friends happy at the Welwyn Beekeepers' Association, www.hertsbees.org.uk
Chance your arm with the Howard Bowmen Archery Club, www.howardbowmen.co.uk
Master the wind and waves with WGC Sailing Club, www.wgcsc.org.uk
Aim to be the best at Welwyn Phoenix Rifle Club, www.welwynphoenixrc.org.uk
Join the Warriors at Welwyn Lacrosse Club, www.pitchero.com/clubs/welwynlacrosseclub