Dear members,

The club seems to continue to go from strength to strength, growing to its largest size ever of 588 paid up members, nearly 100 more than this time last year! The continued success of the C25K and 5-10K programmes, including being offered on both Mondays and Tuesdays has surely contributed to this. Thank you to all the leaders that have helped with these. A special mention to Jem Newton-Smith, who went from joining C25K to running a half marathon and becoming a qualified group leader in only 10 months!

The New College Outreach guide running programme is going very well. Since September, Cliff Wood has become the leader of the programme. He has been instrumental in recruiting many new guide runners, who have enjoyed the rewarding nature of supporting visually impaired runners. Well done to Cliff and all the guide runners.

Club finances continue to remain healthy with a sufficient reserve to be able to​ run the club’s activities; purchasing kit, equipment, LiRF training and organising club races and events.

Over in the cross country, the men’s team led by captain Chris Harris, successfully stayed up in division two in the Birmingham men’s league, finishing in the top half of the table. Chris Attwood has since taken the captain role and has led the team to a strong start in the first fixture of the league. The fixture was hosted by the club and was met with praise by league officials and runners from other clubs. A huge thanks to all the amazing volunteers that helped make that a success, but an extra thank you to Chris for the many hours of work it took to put on the fixture. The women’s team led by captain Lorraine Griffiths achieved promotion to the top division of the Midlands League last season. Well done to all who ran and best of luck over this season.

Earlier in the year, the Mental Health Ambassador programme was given a reshuffle by England Athletics, which led to the club’s Mental Health Champion team forming with Glenn Barker, Alison Law, James Matheson, Kaine Pritchett and Megan Judge. Led by Glenn Barker who was brought on to the committee, the team have done some fantastic work promoting mental health awareness and the benefits of running and talking. A lot of their work goes on quietly behind the scenes, listening, supporting and encouraging people to share their stories and journeys; they have even had airtime on BBC Hereford and Worcester with a fantastic interview. Glenn has produced a great summary of their activities, which you can find printed at the AGM.

The club’s Wild One race was a strong success, with its highest ever attendance. The club donated the profits of nearly £3,500 to be split between the club’s nominated charities; Worcestershire Young Carers and Maggs Day Centre. The club has supported these two amazing local charities over the last 3 years, raising just over £8,000 in total. The club will support new causes going forward, with new charities voted for at the AGM.

parkrun continues to remain popular with club members; Peter Darwen has organised a few ‘takeovers’ at Worcester parkrun, with the club supplementing volunteer roles and offering pacers to cover nearly every pace. Peter also continued to promote the ‘parkrun tours’ to explore nearby parkruns. These have proven popular, especially as some have been included as events in the club’s Champions League. Peter has some great ideas for next year’s tours, which I’m sure will be shared soon.

The Champions League, managed by Mark Dillon has gone down well again, with a good range of local races, nearby parkruns and some mid-week races. Prizes to those in the top 10 will be awarded at the Christmas party. Mark will be handing over the league administration to Sarah Morris, who is putting together the list of fixtures to be announced soon. The first fixture has already been confirmed as the Evesham Festive 10K, a charity event organised by BPJ’s Chris Attwood, Amy Willetts and co.

Churchfields Farm on the outskirts of Worcester recently announced their intention to convert their weekly 5K run to become an official parkrun. After a survey, members voted to donate £1,000 towards the setup costs as we did towards the setup of Pitchcroft parkrun last year, which has been very popular. The event will offer something different with its off-road course and it’s great to see the club helping to expand the parkrun community. The club has also secured a 10% discount for club members in their cafe. No date has been set for the inaugural event just yet, but we’ll keep you informed when we find out.

Romances continue to blossom in the club with a string of BPJ engagements over the year. Congratulations to Cat and Ant, Ian and Lucie, Meg and Ryan, Bert and Karen!

Going forward into next year, if you haven’t seen my email already, I will be stepping down as club chairman. I will see through the AGM, the appointment and settling in of the new committee members and the Croome race, but will look to advertise out for a replacement in due course. I will do everything I can to ensure a smooth handover.

It’s been weighing on my time for some time, especially since Jo and I found we’re expecting the arrival of a little one in February (if you didn’t already know!).

The role of club chair will always come with the stresses of trying to keep nearly 600 diverse members with different personalities and opinions happy, but I feel that I need to step down before it gets to the point where the impact becomes too great.

With the committee about to be expanded with some great new additions that are keen on progressing the club, now is the right time to look to hand over to someone that will be able to give the time the club needs; time that I won’t have as much of, for obvious reasons!

In total, I have been a part of the committee for nearly 7 years, with the last 2 and a half years as the club chair. It started with me being asked by the late Peter Gilbert to take on the role as the club webmaster to help see the launch of a new club website, not long after joining the club. I quickly got roped in to helping with the club’s Croome race and things snowballed from there, even having helped at various times taking on membership secretary and treasurer duties while the committee roles have been in transition. I’ve been able to use my technical experience (aka nerdiness) to move the accounts, memberships, website, race entry and race timing systems to much more efficient, modern systems and help play my part with many areas of the club’s offerings both publicly and behind the scenes.

I may not always have made decisions that everyone agrees with, but in this voluntary role, I have always aimed to put my heart and soul in to the role for the benefit of the club members as do all the committee.

I’m proud to have worked with everyone past and present in the committee and to play my small part in the club’s growth, which has gone from around 260 members when I joined to nearly 600.

I look forward to continuing to remain a part of the Black Pear family for many more years (in between changing nappies and sleepless nights!). The club has been a huge part of my life, I have made some fantastic friends and had countless great experiences over the years. Long may that continue.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Christmas party and wish you all the best going forward into 2019.

Paul Evans
Black Pear Joggers