Monday January 4th 1974 was a milestone year when my late brother Mick Grey established the Wellingborough Club, then known as Queensway SKC and part of the KUGB.
There were 90 odd people who turned up for that 1st session then later in the week we opened another Club in Kettering where another 80 people turned up.
Training with us then were two new karateka who are still very active members of the Wellingborough Club today Glenn Allcoat and Ronnie Baxter who at 78 I am pleased to say is even older than me.
My brother left a few years later to return south where he had been responsible for establishing many of the Clubs that existed in the Slough area. I took over completely the operation of the Wellingborough Club around 1978/9, and have remained ever since. The same year I formed Peterborough SKC as the first of the KUGB East of England expansion plan.
We were very fortunate in those early formative years to have as a regular visitor to our Club for grading, the late great master Enoeda Sensei, who was an inspiration to everyone. If Sensei could not make it he would always send one of his assistant’s Tomita Sensei, Kawazoe and then much later Ohta in the 1980’s.
We were also very fortunate through my involvement with the KUGB National Executive Committee, to have regular training courses with KUGB Senior Instructors Sensei’s Sherry, O’Neill, Poynton, the late Steve Cattle and Brennan, particularly when these excellent instructors were at their best.
Right from the mid 70’s Wellingborough became the annual host to the first KUGB Black and Brown Belt Course held in February of every year, until Sensei Enoeda’s death, when I was then part of the JKA England group which separated from KUGB.
It was later in 2008, when I together with my fellow Technical Directors, Sensei’s Eric Pich, Peter Welsh, Darren Welsh and Mark Tetsola broke away to form the Shotokan Karate Centres England (SKCE), which has gone from strength to strength and now includes a very strong Wellingborough group of about 15 or so Club’s in the Wellingborough region serving Kettering, Corby, Desborough, Earls Barton, Peterborough and Crowland, Lincolnshire.
Wellingborough is the oldest established Club of all the SKC England Club’s and this makes us very proud indeed.
We have seen a lot of karateka come and go over the 40 years and there has been great change from the early 70’s when most clubs were almost exclusively adult (male), but now the mixture is far more representative of society with lots of children, boys and girls, and, although fewer adults, but at least now there are almost as many ladies as men who are regularly training which is good.
We have been very lucky that a few of the adults who joined some years ago are still committed to regular training and teaching others but the sad thing is that most of the kids stop once they leave school. This is something we have to try and address.
I am so glad and very proud that we formed Wellingborough all those years ago, as it has been the catalyst for all the Club’s along with their instructors that have become part of the much larger Wellingborough group operating Clubs which form part of SKC England of which I am proud to serve as Chairman.
Here’s to the next milestone, our 50th Anniversary.
Chairman SKC England