History of the Black Pear Joggers

On a summers evening, Monday club night, there may well be nearly 200 Black Pear Joggers heading out for a run (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 on Bilford Road, Worcester, who kindly host us. The club’s origins go back even further though…

This page is very much under construction. If you have any interesting stories or information about the history of the club, let us know.

1980s: Perdiswell Ladies

Back in the 80s, Olympic marathon runner Sally Ellis founded the Perdiswell Ladies Jogging Club. Much of the history and how this eventually evolved into the Black Pear Joggers is not known, but it shows that the club and its home at Perdiswell has a long history.

Sisters Karen Hinks (4th from left) and Suzanne Price (right) are still part of the local running community; running with our neighbouring club, the Pershore Plum Plodders.

Eventually the club allowed men to participate and was named Worcester Joggers. This article from the Worcester News (April 20th 1991) shows members training for London Marathon. Stuart Wild went on to develop the club’s Sunday marathon training schedule. Liz Stacey (right) still runs with the club.

1999: Twelve people and a dog

Back in the summer of 1999, an average of 12 people and a dog met for a run at Perdiswell Leisure Centre.

2001: A club is formed

Around 2001 people decided to form an official club. The Worcester Joggers 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 original Worcester Joggers website can still be accessed online today, which features a range of historic photos and club information!

2005: Black Pear Joggers

In 2005 the club applied to become affiliated to UK Athletics, and the club’s name changed to Black Pear Joggers to avoid confusion with the already affiliated Worcester AC. The kit was changed from the original blue, to black with white and orange hoops.

Why Black Pear?

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.

2010: Croome Capability Canter

Since voted into the top 10 off-road races by readers of Runners World, the club started its Croome Capability Canter race back in 2010. A 6.5 mile (10kish) multi-terrain race around the scenic Croome Park; designed by renowned 18th century landscape architect Lancelot “Capability” Brown. Members of the club do a fantastic job organising and marshaling the event each year, giving it a great reputation. The race often sells out within a day (the record was minutes!). The race has raised tens of thousands of pounds donated to the National Trust to help them maintain the estate.

2012: Cross Country

The club made their first official debut in the regional cross country leagues. Team captain’s Chris Harris and Lorraine Westcott (now Griffiths), encouraged members to don their spikes and represent the club at various fixtures.

With great club cameraderie, members of all abilities have taken part and enjoyed the tough winter training.

Since the debut, the club’s men’s team have seen success with promotions to division 2 of the Birmingham Men’s League and division 1 of the Midlands Women’s League.

2013: Legends Lost

Two pivotal members of the club sadly passed away in 2013.

Stuart Wild led the club’s Sunday marathon training programme convincing many to do their first marathon. Stuart himself had completed 100 marathons. Stuart died suddenly while out walking with his wife.

Former chair Peter Gilbert was instrumental in taking the club forward to UK Athletics affiliation and also co-ordinated social events and club publicity. A strong advocate of running to relieve stress and improve mental health (see his ‘Keep Up Your Spirits‘ article), he was sadly diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease in 2012, which left him unable to run. He lost his battle with his illness and unfortunately passed away on 12 December 2013.

2013: The Wild One

Stuart Wild had begun to organise a race with fellow BPJ Gavin Paskin when Stuart passed away. Gavin continued ahead with the event and it was agreed it would be named in tribute to Stuart.

The inaugural event was held in July 2013, titled the Stuart Wild Memorial Race. Gavin, along with the marshals and volunteers ensured the day ran smoothly.

Runners completed a marathon distance over 10 laps either solo, as a pair or as a team of 5 around a combination of grass, wooded trails and tarmac.

The event had great support from everyone, including Black Pear Joggers and Malvern Joggers, many with great fancy dress costumes. Cleeve Ladies were fantastic, entering 3 teams. Dave Phillips from Massey Ferguson runners had completed over 400 marathons in 30 years, he said how much he enjoyed this event.

The race went down so well, the club had lots asking when the next one would be. The race was renamed to the Wild One and a crack team of volunteers, led by race director Claire Shacklock started planning.

2019 marked the 7th year of the event. The event has raised thousands of pounds for local charities and been a regular, fun fixture in the calendar each year.

2015: Couch to 5K and beyond

The club worked with the Hereford and Worcester Sports Partnership to help introduce a series of Couch to 5K and 5-10K courses to Worcester.

Since then, the club’s supportive leaders have led many more 9 week programmes to help those new to running build up from no running experience to being able to confidenly run 10K.

This expanded the club’s inclusiveness offering groups for complete beginners to speedy 7 min/mile groups.

2016: Clubmark Accreditation

In June 2016, the Black Pear Joggers were officially a Clubmark accredited running club. This means that England Athletics recognise that we are a safe, inclusive, quality running club and that we have met all of the criteria set out for adult running clubs.

Jo Evans led the club through the process, which involved various changes to the club, include getting group leaders trained (LiRF), creating and working towards a Club Improvement Action Plan, creating a club Welcome pack, developing and implementing an Outreach programme, recruiting two welfare officers and having at least two people safeguarding trained.

The process was achieved with the support of a willing group of volunteers and was certainly a challenge at times, but it is definitely something that has helped our running club to continue to develop.

Group Photos

The local Crowle 10K and the Worcester City 10K and Half Marathon are the most attended events by BPJs each year. It’s customary to get together for a photo in club kit. Here’s a selection of the photos over the years, showing the club’s growth!

The future of the club

A lot has changed since the original club was formed; from 12 people and a dog to over 600 members. Who knows what the future holds for the club, but we hope the club continues to offer a friendly, inclusive environment for runners of all abilities.