Outstanding international gymnast Madelaine Routledge and her mum Angela are making a new start following the sudden death of dad and husband Chris.
Talented young gymnast Madelaine Routledge is following her dream ... and she knows her dad would be so very, very proud.
It’s been a tumultuous year for the 13 year old who has triumphed over bereavement and moving home and country to make a new start.
Her journey so far has taken her from Preston to France and now to Scotland, where she is now concentrating on perfecting her gymnastic art.
She has tasted early success in this international sport, particularly in beam work.
But when her father, Prestonian Chris, died suddenly in France a year ago she and her mother had to rethink their future.
Mum Angela, also from Preston, stayed in France until June to allow Madelaine to complete the gym school year, giving away her furniture and moving from their mountain home to rented holiday accommodation nearer school.
They moved to Edinburgh three months ago. On October 9, just a day before Chris’s anniversary, Angela watched with pride as her youngster came fourth in her age group in the Scottish national championships in Perth, finishing just .02 points off the bronze position.
It was a particular triumph as it was the first time Madelaine had competed in an older class against 14, 15 and 16 year olds and followed success in French national contests in May and June.
Angela said: “She has been an inspiration to me, her grandma Barbara Routledge who is well known in Ashton for helping charitable events, her original clubs of Preston Trampoline Centre and Garstang Gymnastics, as well as all our extended family and friends in Preston.”
The family embarked on their overseas adventure in 2013. They had been living in Chipping and then Penwortham, with Madelaine attending schools at St Francis (Hill Chapel) Primary in Goosnargh and then St Teresa’s in Penwortham.
Angela said: “Madelaine did recreational gym before we left. However after a slow and steady progression at two of the top clubs in France, Dijon and Avoine Beaumont, the trainers helped her achieve some of the highest moves in her age group.”
The family settled in Dijon, then the Loire and finally near Strasbourg. Madelaine quickly became bi-lingual and her school facilitated her gym work by allowing gymnasts to leave early to train. In October 2016 Madelaine had just moved to new club Haguenau, near Strasbourg and was being home schooled.
Angela recalled: “Madelaine was 12 and looking to move up a gear at her new club when her dad suddenly had a heart attack and died. Chris was 51 and absolutely fit as a fiddle. We were about to build a house in Alsace when this happened.”
In the months following Chris’s death and through their grief they considered their future, decided it was time to head back to the UK and looked at gym clubs in different cities.
Impressed by the training at the City of Edinburgh Gymnastics Club, the sports science opportunities at the university and the city itself, plus the straightforward journey back to Preston,
Edinburgh was their chosen destination. Their house in Penwortham has been sold and they will soon move into a new home on the outskirts of the city. They plan to keep in touch with French friends and hope to organise exchange visits between Madelaine’s new club and her French club.
Before they left France Madelaine had again made it to the National Finals in Cognac, finishing 24th.
To compete in two national contests ,in France and then Scotland, is an inspiring achievement and Angela said: “I wanted to acknowledge Madelaine’s bravery and determination through the past year.”
She continued: “My husband was 51 and had never been ill. But we were doing everything we wanted to do, pursuing our goals. Chris was very proud of Madelaine’s achievements. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue providing Madelaine with an interesting and stimulating life and this is not the end of the adventure.”
A local love story
Chris and Angela both went to school in Preston and met working as posties in the city.
Angela joined the police force and became a detective in Manchester.
Chris, a keen Preston North End supporter, had left school with no qualifications, but gained both a degree and further degree in his 20s and 30s, studying applied social studies at UCLan and economics and social studies at the University of Manchester, where he also lectured.