In the 1950s we were a section within what was known as the Blenheim Youth Club Inc. It was one activity amongst many designed to provide for the Youth of Marlborough.
The Youth Club Hall was a volunteer project coordinated by Sergeant Hope and other community leaders in 1958/59. It was a project that faced many difficulties especially maintaining solvency. During completion there was the threat of a takeover by the National YMCA organisation because of financial hassles. Marlborough once again showed its mettle and the community got the club out of that problem.
Initially the gymnastics section was recreational only.
From the outset there have been many stalwarts who each in their own time have put in an enormous amount of effort into the club. They were, by way of examples, Sergeant Hope, the Reddans, Jorgensens, Williams, Richards, Quirks and Pasks.
The Incorporated Society known as the Youth Club ceased to exist in the late 1990s. The last officers in the Society were Tony Quirk as President and Maureen Elliot as Secretary. The Youth Club ceased to exist since the only activity left operating in the hall was the Gym Club.
In the 1970s the gym section became involved in competitive activities. There was very early success with Gillian Harrison achieving success at a National level with Bob Richards as her coach.
The club hosted trail events when we were part of the Wellington Regional Association.
From 1990 the club achieved at the National and International level.
We had National successes with Sheonaigh Renne, Nadine Scott, Michelle Cassidy, Michelle Clayton, Vanessa Clayton, Mathew Palmer, Neil Kelman, Toby Morland and Anna Tempero.
There would be few clubs who have had gymnasts they call their own who became National Champions at MAG and WAG Level 10.
In WAG (Women’s Artistic Gymnastics) there was Nadine Scott and Anna Tempero and in MAG it was Mathew Palmer even though Mathew was based at another club when he achieved that success – we still claim his as one of our own.
Anna Tempero also became International Elite Champion in 2013.
In the mid-1970s a storage extension was built to allow for gear. Up until the mid-90s all gear had to be erected and taken down again for each class. This was a burden on parents, gymnasts and coaches.
In 2000 the floor and pit area extension was built. This was very much assisted by the efforts of the then President, Karen Scott and her involvement over many years before that with fundraising. Tony Quirk acted as building co-ordinator and Bob Richards as installer of many of the gymnastic parts of the building. It was finally completed in 2000.
Coupled with the building extension efforts was the purchase of top level equipment needed to enable the club to host the 2001 Junior National Championships. This was well recognised as one of the best National Championships run by a provincial area, all the more astonishing since there was only the one club whereas in other provincial situations there were multiple clubs to help spread the load.
By 2003 all debt associated with the building extension and equipment had been cleared.
The club has provided support for many recreational clubs within what is known as the Top of the South area being Kaikoura, West Coast and Tasman. This support continues to the present day.
We have been fortunate in having some long time coaching stalwarts over the years such as Greg Pask, Maureen Elliot and Heather Cresswell.
Prior to 1986 the club was part of the Wellington Regional Organisation.
In 1986 Nelson and Blenheim formed the Top of the South Association. Blenheim personnel formed an integral part of that regional organisation. It ceased to exist in 2007 as a result of a National restructure. During the period it was in operation however, the Top of the South performed way above its numbers in terms of National successes.
The club has provided personnel at the National level.
Tony Quirk was a National Gymnastic Board Member for 20 years, was Honorary Executive Director of the National Organisation for 10 years, was Coordinator of the National Gym School for 10 years and was Supervising Manager of the National Women’s Technical Committee for several years.
The club has provided International Representatives being Sheonaigh Renne, Nadine Scott, Michelle Clayton, Vanessa Clayton, Neil Kelman, Toby Morland, Mathew Palmer, Anna Tempero,
Mathew and Anna represented NZ at Commonwealth Games: Mathew in Dehli 2010 and Glasgow in 2014; and Anna at Glasgow in 2014.
The above were athletes and officials have been Tony Quirk as coach, judge and manager on multiple tours and Erica Ticehurst as a coach on several overseas events.
Life members of the club are Bob Richards, Maureen Elliott, Tony Quirk and Heather Cresswell.