Leigh Judo Club is currently celebrating a recent nomination for the British Judo Association’s Community Club of the Year award. The event takes place in November, and this prestigious nomination from the sport’s official governing body is welcome recognition for a club with the local community at its heart. Facing stiff competition from Bishopstorford JC and Kodokwai JC, the Bristish Judo awards ceremony will take place on Saturday 2nd November 2019.
The club was founded in 2012 in the legacy of the Olympic Games, with initial funding from Sport England that helped to turn an unused room in a run-down gym into a functional judo mat area. Membership grew quickly, and the club was soon recognised as a key player in the local and wider sports club network.
As the popularity of the club increased rapidly within the local community, it soon became clear that a larger space with specially designed judo facilities was essential. Despite stiff competition from other local groups, in 2015 Leigh Judo Club won their bid to move into what was previously Lowton Youth and Community Centre.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers to renovate the space (including an innovative sprung floor for the dojo made with old car tyres), Leigh Judo Club has evolved into both a fully functional judo club and a strong community hub.
Commitment to the Community
Long-term commitment to the community is at the heart of the club, and with classes for kids, teens and adults, the founder’s aim is to create an inclusive environment where everyone is made to feel welcome.
The club has a café that is open to both members and non-members that acts as a safe, social space for local people to enjoy. As a registered educational provider, the club plays an active role within the community and has developed various initiatives to boost the activity levels, health and wellness of local people. They regularly host events throughout the year that the wider community are encouraged to take part in, with the annual summer BBQ a recent highlight.
It also runs numerous socials for its members, including pizza nights, senior nights out and summer trips for kids, and fosters a familial atmosphere that teaches the community valuable life skills.
Although the club has come a long way, there is still so much more to be done. The building faces serious maintenance issues including rotting infrastructure and an irreparable asbestos roof that the club is unable to fix on its own. In 2017, the club applied to Sport England for community capital investment for the ‘re-roofing and development of Lowton Youth and Community Centre.’ Although the application was successful little progress has been made so far, leaving the club unable to progress with its plans for development.
As the club becomes ever more popular, both as a judo club and a community centre, more resources are needed to cater for its users. With the much-needed funding, the club hopes to extend the space and to provide better facilities for the whole community. A particular focus is the café, which is a valuable resource for both members and non-members alike. With increased funding, the club aims to increase its opening hours and provide an even better service for the local community with judo at its core.
With continued support from local MP Jo Platt as well as the local community, the club continues to plan for future developments and remains committed to making a positive impact in people’s lives. As Founder and Head Coach Luke Brown says: “Judo is much more than a sport and self-defence martial art. Through its core values, it teaches and instils positive life values and skills, creating positive friendships and memories that last a lifetime. That’s what we are trying to achieve with Lowton centre, to create a safe and vibrant community hub with Judo’s core values at its heart. A centre that enriches the lives of our community and provides opportunity and a platform for everyone to learn and grow to make positive lifelong memories now and in the future.”