In 2012, on a summers evening, Monday Club night, there may well be over 100 Black Pear Joggers* (usually including a number of people who are joining in for the first time). In the summer of 1999 there was an average of 12 people (and a dog!) attending the Club at Perdiswell Leisure Centre, Bilford Road, Worcester, who kindly host us.
The group was always friendly and welcoming of new members, and, as a newcomer to Worcester and doing a stressful job, I found the group a great team for both exercise and companionship. Several people in that small group, like Wilf Bates, and Stuart Wild, our ‘marathon guru’, are still very much involved in the Club, which provides a consistency of the welcoming group ethos, and an accent on bringing together people of all abilities. In 2012 the main Club night usually sees about 8 groups going out: from jog/walk to 7 minute miling.
In 2002 people decided to set up a proper club called: Worcester Joggers, The club colours were blue, and the club continued to grow, with people attracted to a friendly atmosphere, different paces, group leaders, mustering for back markers, and social events (lots of people new to the City joined to make friends). The Joggers will be holding a Summer Ball (organised by Gavin Paskin) at Worcester Cricket Ground on 30th June 2012, the annual Christmas party is a great event, and meals in different venues are organised throughout the year to help people meet up across running groups.
The Club Chairs have been: Peter Gilbert, Richard Sowden, Ruth Bailey, Steve Bott, Gary Smith and Mike Lane. The current Chair is Paul Evans.
In 2005 the Club applied to become affiliated to UK Athletics, and the Club’s name changed to Black Pear Joggers*, with kit from the original blue, to black with white and orange hoops. The Club has continued to grow, with 300 members; 100+ people on the Monday club nights; and 30+ people training for long distance races at weekends. At £12pa the membership fee is very reasonable.
2011 saw the Club set up its annual 10k race at Croome Hall (National Trust), which has drawn in lots of runners and got a positive mention in Runners World. While the Jog/Walk group (led by local legend, Wilf Bates) is very popular,70 BPJ’s ran in the inaugural Worcester Marathon and Half Marathon on 15th April, 2012, with Darren Salisbury coming second in the Half Marathon in a time of 1hr, 15. 08.
Every year the Club votes to support a local charity. In 2012 it is St Richards Hospice.
The culture of the Joggers is healthy exercise in a friendly and social environment (see ‘Keep Up Your Spirits’ article on website) at a time when life stresses mean we need de-stressing activity in a companionable atmosphere.
Inaugural Chair, BPJ.
25th April, 2012.
* The Black Pear of Worcester, from which the Club is named, dates back to Roman times . English bowmen from Worcestershire carried black pear to the battle of Agincourt; and when Queen Elizabeth 1st visited the City in 1575 the Black Pear tree was part of the welcome celebrations, and the Queen ordered 3 pears to be added to the City’s coat of arms.
Edited by Peter Gilbert, this is a highly regarded handbook for service users, carers and staff wishing to bring a spiritual dimension to mental health services. The opening chapter by Peter discusses running and the running club as an aid to mental wellbeing.