Website by Matthew Rush
High Wycombe Judo Centre
High Wycombe Judo Centre
Wycombe Judo History
To tell the full story of how the Centre came into existence would run to the proportions of a novel, but the concept of the story belongs to John O'Brien and a small group of dedicated judo enthusiasts.
The team that John gathered around him consisted of Bill Nobbs, Colin Nichols, Gary Gillot and Alan Green, and later the group expanded to include Graham Fanko, chartered accountant, Roy Inman, at the time Great Britains Womens Team Manager and John's wife Sheila. John is certain that without Sheila's support the project would never have happened.
John's concept was to raise the profile of Judo, but more importantly to have a club where Great Britains judo players could train and develop their skills on a par with their Japanese and continental counterparts.
At the time nothing like this existed in Great Britain and most judo clubs were still operating from sports centres and village halls hired to them once or twice a week, where at the beginning of each session, the mats being laid down and picked up again after practice. Not a very practical set-
What John O'Brien envisaged was a large purpose built dojo with a permanent matted area on a sprung floor like those used at the modern day Kodakan Centre in Japan
So the founder members opened a bank account by contributing £1.00 each making a starting capital of just £5.00 and set about four years of hard work begging, borrowing and slightly coercing, calling in favours and almost exhausting friendships built up over the years.
John also started a lottery, which raised £50,000. The Sports Council also contributed, as did the local council lottery. Brewery and Bank loans were invoked but the biggest contribution to achieving the finished article was the self build element valued at approximately £75,000 worth of materials, labour and expertise. In this area the project owed a huge debt of gratitude to Mike O'Leary of Collcutt and Hamp, Architects.
John's first real break came when David Fieldhouse of the High Wycombe District Council offered John a site on which to build the centre and all that was then needed was to raise the £200,000 to complete the dream.
Building work started in September 1985, when Director Bill Nobbs started to clear the site. Bill's company also erected the steel structure and fabrication for the building. Both Bill and John directed and organised all labour and contractors until the project was completed under a horrendous time schedule.
In 1987, the Founder Members presented their vision to the public -
Today the Wycombe Centre is not just a judo centre, it is a family centre, a place where people of all ages can participate in the clubs activities, spectate, or relax and enjoy refreshments in the fully licensed bar. With video games, pool table, music and big screen, for those who are not actually training, there is always plenty to do within the centre itself.
But most important of all, is the main dojo area which has been the training area for the British Judo Squad, and players such as Olympic medallists Nic Fairbrother, Sharon Rendle, Ray Stevens and Kate Howey, to name but a few, who have all trained here.
In fact, the centre has pathed the way to no less than 60 medals in European, World and Olympic competitions.
There can be little doubt that the High Wycombe Judo Centre has made a huge contribution to British Judo. It is a story of success that began with a dream and just £5.00 in privately raised funds.