A husband and wife team who have helped hundreds of county youngsters learn gymnastics have been honoured with British Citizen Awards.
Longridge Gymnastics Club founders and super coaches David and Sheila Hanson, both 68, will be presented with special medals at the Palace of Westminster later this month for their outstanding “services to the community”.
Such is their dedication to their club and sport they even acted as guarantors and used their home as collateral for the lease when the club moved to new premises.
This week they recalled how they both became coaches after their son and two youngest daughters joined gym classes near their Garstang home nearly four decades ago.
David said: “My son first attended a local gym class and he was very good at it, but they didn’t really cater for boys. The closest one was 50 miles away in Manchester, so I thought instead of sitting watching for hours or going off doing a bit of shopping, I would get into coaching and it all started from there. My son ended up on the British team, so it was worth it, but I never thought I would still be doing it all these years later.”
Son Chris, now 40, was in both British junior and senior teams from the age of 14 - 22.
The couple opened the Longridge club in 1991 so other families would not have to travel so far for training. It now has 400 recreational and competitive gymnasts and more than 30 volunteer coaches.
After 15 years of fundraising and planning, the club moved to its current home, at the Astra Business Centre, on Roman Way, Grimsargh, in February 2011.
Sheila said: “We’re now coaching some of our original children’s children, which makes us feel a bit old but we love it.”
Led by the Hansons, the club’s parent group managed to raise £35,000 to purchase flooring and equipment to ensure the children had the best facilities possible to train in.
As for the award, Sheila said: “Obviously we’re delighted. But it has come as a bit of a shock really. I think some of the parents instigated it and put our name forward and we’re very grateful. We don’t feel that we’ve done anything special, we just enjoy it.”
•The BCAs were launched in January 2015 to recognise “exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society.”
Each recipient receives a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’.