Badminton coach Barbara nets 50 years

A celebration to mark an 85-year-old Ribble Valley woman's 50 years coaching badminton is being held in Clitheroe.
Badminton coach Barbara "Bunty" Meadows with some of her players.Badminton coach Barbara "Bunty" Meadows with some of her players.
Badminton coach Barbara "Bunty" Meadows with some of her players.

Barbara “Bunty” Meadows, who has been playing badminton since she was 14, is a local legend on the badminton circuit.

Married with a family of four children, she moved to Clitheroe in 1964 when her husband Alan got a job as deputy head at St James’ CE Primary School in the town.

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First developing her love of badminton at a church in Leyland, Barbara, who has played competitively for Preston and then Lancashire at various levels, was keen to carry on playing and after moving to the Ribble Valley she enrolled on an evening class which used the single court in the hall at Ribblesdale School.

Soon after, the new sports hall was built with four courts and the coach who ran the evening class needed a helper as it was so popular. He asked Barbara to help out and she hasn’t looked back since. That was in 1967 and Lancashire County Council allowed her to take her coaching qualifications at Loughborough.

A few years later she was asked to take charge of the class at Ribblesdale and over the years has had six different helpers. With badminton becoming more popular, Barbara also started two daytime classes at St Mary’s Parish Hall.

“At this time I was fully supporting the challenge to build a local leisure centre at Roefield and when the dream came true the day time classes were transferred to the four court hall at Roefield,” Barbara said. “When I left the employment of Lancashire Education Committee the manager at Roefield asked me to carry on the classes there for them.”

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At the moment, grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of four Barbara has two “pay and play” classes per week with people of any standard or age welcome.

“Over the years I have seen complete beginners move on to be competent enough to join local clubs and become key members of teams in the local badminton league,” said Barbara, who played her last competitive game on her 70th birthday with the Lancashire veterans team at York.

Anyone who has ever been coached by Barbara or helped with her classes is invited to the 50 years celebration at Roefield Sports Centre on Saturday, September 16th from 2 to 4pm.

People are welcome to bring their racket or just pop in to say hello.