Bellingham Leisure and Lifestyle Centre, 5 Randlesdown Road, Bellingham, London SE6 3BT
Tel: 020 8697 2222
  e-mail: ladywellgc@aol.com web site: www.ladywellgym.com

"To Enrich Lives Through Gymnastics"

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Ladywell Gymnastics Club was founded in the London Borough of Lewisham in 1967 by Jim and Pauline Prestidge, at The Playtower in Ladywell.
At that time, they were regarded as the major motivators of modern gymnastics in Great Britain. Their Club, Ladywell Gymnastics Club, was unique for its time, and National Squad members, travelling from all over the country, trained there at weekends. One of these, Avril Lennox, OBE, an Olympic gymnast, traveled to Lewisham from the Midlands to train!
The Club produced gymnasts who competed in Olympics, International and National as well as British Championships down the years.
Suzanne Dando and Yvette Austin, now both successful broadcasters, are former members of the Club.

The Club was moved from The Playtower to Lewisham Leisure Centre in Rennell Street in 1977. At this time, Mr and Mrs Prestige found a purpose built gymnastics facility and moved to the North of England. Despite the cramped conditions the Club now found itself in, it continued to produce gymnasts of National and International standard.

In 1996, Ladywell Gymnastics Club found itself undergoing a forced relocation, ironically - back to The Playtower in Ladywell, despite the fact that The Playtower had been unoccupied for a year as a condemned building!

Suzanne Dando

The Club almost did not survive this move and radical change, but due mainly to the drive, persistence and dedication of Shirley Callaghan BEM ** , the Club grew from a handful of volunteer coaches and approximately thirty gymnasts to a thriving, not-for-profit, Community Interest Company small business, with full and part-time staff, approximately 600 members and a very long waiting list!
The Club flourished despite the many hardships it had to overcome to survive in The Playtower and now has gymnasts competing at Club, Regional and National Level, at home and abroad.


** [In 2015, Shirley was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for Services to Gymnastics in the Queen's New Year's Honours List - a just reward for her more than thirty years of tireless dedication to the Club, and to the children of Lewisham who enjoy the sport of gymnastics here at the Club]

In April 2004, with the aid of a Lottery Grant and funding from the London Borough of Lewisham, the Club moved to a permanent new purpose-built facility, housed within the Bellingham Leisure and Lifestyle Centre in Randlesdown Road, Bellingham, South East London. Since the move, the Club has continued to thrive and has become an integral part of, and a corner-stone of the local community. It was also during this memorable year that the London Gymnastics Federation awarded the Club of the Year and Coach of the Year (to Head Coach Shirley Callaghan) Awards and accolades to the Club.

This Club continues to provide the community with a much needed service, while also producing gymnasts of a high standard to maintain the Ladywell tradition. The new facility enables us to provide a lasting legacy to our founders; one within a fitting environment for the present staff and members - many of whom have fought to keep the Club alive through thick and thin.

The dreams and ideals of founders Jim and Pauline continue to flourish and go from strength to strength. Their legacy remains strong in our hands.

 

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