History of Hesketh Bank Badminton Club



Hesketh Bank Badminton Club was formed around 1979/1980 by a small group of keen young enthusiasts playing badminton matches against local league teams in the Methodist Church Hall, Chapel Lane, Hesketh Bank.

Founder members of the club included Alan and Pearl Baxter, John and Jean Edwards, Peter and Kath Kirkham. Alan was the first Chairman of the club, but handed over the reins to John Edwards after a year or two – thankfully, a position John has retained to date.

After several years playing against local teams, an application to play in the Southport and District League was approved, and Hesketh Bank Badminton Club became a member of Southport and District Badminton League in season 1985/6 playing in the Methodist Chapel.

 At that time the Southport and District League (established in 1932) was considered one of the biggest and strongest leagues in the country.  The league consisted of 32 registered clubs across 12 Divisions, a huge step for the pioneers and trail blazers of Hesketh Bank Badminton Club.

The opportunity to move from the Methodist Church Hall was presented when Tarleton Badminton Club who played at All Saints, moved to Burscough Sports Centre. As a result Hesketh Bank Badminton Club moved to All Saints Church Hall, Station Road where they enjoyed many successful and happy years.

The very first League match which took place on 25th September 1985 against Woodvale was a resounding success, winning 15 – 1.  The first team score sheet comprised Alan and Pearl Baxter, Mark Elliott, John and Jean Edwards, Gillian Rigby, Gill Farrell and Harry Edmondson – well done team – life in the Southport League started with you!   This winning combination, with significant and additional team support from Phil Wignall, Dave Farrell, Chris Hornby, Jack Wrigley, Alan Aspinall, Peter Kirkham, Jacqui Heaton, Anne Sergeant, Alison Woodhouse, Alison Roper and Gillian Taylor provided a formidable and ever present successful squad for several seasons to come and ensured promotion in our very first year in the Southport League.  In those early days Pearl Baxter was the club’s first General Secretary and Alan was Match Secretary.

Such was the success of playing competitive league matches in the Southport League it was decided to enter an additional team captained by Phil Wignall - Hesketh Bank 2 in season 1986/7 and the flourishing junior section lead to introducing a junior under12 and U14 – an indication of the growing strength and support for badminton in Hesketh Bank.

Success followed success for the first team as they finished the 1987/88 season as unbeaten champions with 18 wins from 18 matches.

The end of the decade 1988/89 culminated in further promotion for the first team to Division 4B and prior to restructured League Divisions adopted in 2001/2.  Hesketh Bank 2 continued to hold their own and in this year was promoted to Division 6B.   At this time Mark Elliott was to become Match Secretary and Mrs. L Taylor General Secretary.

In 1990, Hesketh Bank 2 were awarded the Raynor Trophy, presented to the team that has achieved the most without winning anything – including League position, Cup and Shield runs and progression in the Watkinson Trophy.

Continued success for the first team in 1992/3 season finished as unbeaten champions of Division 4B and was promoted to Division 3B in 1993/4

More first team success followed, and in 1997 winning the highly prestigious Watkinson Trophy. The competition is played annually between all teams in the League - an excellent achievement.

Mike Schofield became Match Secretary in 1996 until retiring in 2002

In 2003/2004, it was the first team’s turn to receive the Raynor trophy, so close to everything but just out of their grasp.

In 2005/2006 we introduced the third team to the League and played in Division 8 – Helen Boucher was General Secretary and Andrew Kenyon was Match Secretary. Several lean years followed for the third team. Captains Mark Hawksley and subsequently James Ambler were responsible for leading us back into Division 6, a position we have retained to current date.

In 2006 Janet Pope succeeded Andrew Kenyon as Match Secretary

In 2010 the Southport League presented the Vera Maxwell trophy jointly to Jean and John Edwards for services to badminton. This hugely prestigious award recognises the services given to badminton and for the culmination of many years’ unrecognised service and hard work.

In the season 2011/12 John Edwards, as Chairman of Hesketh Bank paid tribute to all the officers and three teams for what he described as the best season since joining the League in 1985/6. The first team captained by Mark Elliott won the League and the St Johns Shield and West End Cup. The second team under non playing captain Jean Edwards did extremely well in their higher division finishing mid table and the third team captained by Mark Hawksley was promoted to Division 6.    Vicky Andrews also reported on the excellent attitude of our juniors and saw a bright future on and off the badminton court for all our young people.

Les Hill became General Secretary succeeding Anne Hartley-Worrall and Jean Edwards became Treasurer. Sadly we lost Jean in February 2015 after a long brave battle with her illness.

Mark Elliott, Phil Wignall, Mark Hawksley and James Ambler continued to push for trophies and enjoyed many successes – a huge well done to the captains and all participants involved. The League Shield was won by the first team in 2015/16 season, and the third team were champions of Division 7 in the same season.

In 2016 both Mark Elliott and Phil Wignall decided to relinquish the captaincy of the first and second teams after many campaigns and outstanding support – thank you both.

It was with much sadness that we left the Church Hall where many battles had taken place often going well into the night to finish the match. Opposing teams also enjoyed playing in the Church Hall, but with only one court we recognised that to make progress we needed to make a change. When the opportunity came, we owed George Fairbrother a huge vote of thanks for making the case to move to the Academy and for consolidating and coordinating the transition to Tarleton Academy and providing first class multi court playing facilities – many thanks George.

However we all miss, including the opposing teams, the excellent and delicious scones and jam provided by Pauline Johnson – win some lose some unfortunately, another example of having your cake etc. etc. – thank you Pauline.  

Steve Johnston and Sarah Cowle assumed the mantle of first team and second team captains for the 2016/17 season. The first team won the St Paul’s Cup before the Christmas break and the inaugural mid-season tournament for the Jean Edwards memorial trophy was won by Amanda Vernon and Mark Elliott.

Season 2017/18 saw the first team under the captaincy of George of securing promotion to the 2nd Division. The highest status achieved in the club’s history. The second team captained by Sarah did extremely well given a really difficult year with limited resources due to illnesses and injuries. James Ambler experienced severe problems and struggled to fulfil some matches but was fully supported by help from our junior ranks – well done everybody.

The Jean Edwards trophy this year was won by Kirsty Sumner and George Fairbrother

And finally in the current season 2018/2019 the first team under George, consolidated their position in Division 2 and finished an excellent 7th. A fantastic achievement in this their first season in the higher tier. Well done

Not to be outdone, Sarah Cowle and the second team secured promotion to Division 4 the highest recorded position in the clubs history. As well as league success, they also won the St. Simon and St. Jude Cup in December 2018.  Sarah would be the first to admit the help from the third team was brilliant and could not have been achieved without them.

James and the third team battled manfully and retained their status in Division 6 with much support from all the players including junior members – Well done everybody.

The mid-season Jean Edwards memorial trophy played in the Church Hall end of December 2018 was won by Janet Pope and Alex Grieves.

Importantly the juniors continue to go from strength to strength – their attitude is wonderful and some are now good enough to help out the third team as was evident last year. Under the leadership of John Edwards aided and abetted by Mark Elliott, Pauline Johnson and George Fairbrother the future of Hesketh Bank Badminton Club looks to be in excellent hands.

So many memories, and members over the years, have passed through Hesketh Bank Badminton Club and too many to mention and pay tribute to however we are extremely grateful to all members’ seniors and Juniors, past and present, who have made such a huge contribution to the development and growth of Hesketh Bank Badminton Club. I am reminded we have had some characters and some top nights, playing, AGM’s and going to celebrate ‘on the town’ in Southport on awards evenings.  Thank you all very much.

Writing in the Southport Visiter in 1987 the sports correspondent John Sinclair said “there are two things that you can guarantee when you play Hesketh Bank. Firstly you will have to play well to have a chance of winning and secondly you will enjoy yourself. It is good to know that Hesketh Bank Badminton Club have not changed their philosophy of playing hard and fairly and making all opposing teams very welcome”.

Nice philosophies to have don’t you think!

Happy 40th Birthday Hesketh Bank Badminton Club


Les Hill

General Secretary (30th April 2019) E&OE.



Acknowledgements and thanks go to:

Alan and Pearl Baxter for their truly amazing records and documented evidence

Mr Graham Perry – (President - Southport and District Badminton League) for trawling through endless League archives.

Mark Elliott, John Edwards and Janet Pope (leading lights in the Hesketh Bank family) for their advice

Peter and Kath Kirkham – co founder members