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HomeALLMeeting up with... Edward Oatley MBE

Meeting up with… Edward Oatley MBE

Sevenoaks District Council has always been keen to promote and encourage sport in the area and I joined the Sports Council when John Walker took over as Chairman from Charlie Hatt in the 1980s. As in the present day the District Council gave grants to the Sports Council which went to talented local sports people and to help clubs with their training expenses.

Around this time Brian Kinsey, the Charlton Athletic Footballer, was appointed Sports Development Officer and having just become Head of Sevenoaks Prep, and shortly afterwards starting Sackville School in Hildenborough, I became involved with him in organising local sports events for children which took place on the school grounds as well as at other venues.

Brian was outstanding in this capacity and sport for the community took off very quickly, and this continues in the hands of our present inspirational Clare Strange who is working wonders with school sport today.

The opening of the new Sevenoaks Leisure Centre in the early 80s saw Robin Marchant and Rob Searle start up the Triathlon Club; I took part in the first triathlon and have done so ever since.
Also at that time the early morning swim came into being which became very popular (in those days a coffee and a newspaper were part of the deal!) and I still swim every morning at 6.30 – a great way to start the day.

Moving on a few years the Rugby Club was the first to appoint a Sports Development Officer and now every sports club in the area has a thriving youth section. The Rugby, Football, Hockey and Cricket clubs now go into the primary schools to help coach sport, and with the Netball, Basketball, Swimming, Athletics, Tennis and Triathlon clubs, amongst others, working closely in conjunction with the local primary and secondary schools it is no surprise that this has taken sport to a new high level.

Well over 2,000 children are coached by several hundred trained volunteer coaches in all sports and the high standard the clubs achieve, not only locally, but also at County and National level shows how far the participation and enjoyment of sport has come over the years.

I think it is fair to say that we have now become one of the top districts in Great Britain. The example the district sets for the development of youth sports in local clubs, and the outstanding way in which they work with the schools, to encourage the children and inspire them to participate and reach a high standard is so beneficial and is also of enormous benefit to their self- confidence.
The Sports Council grants have helped a huge variety of athletes and their clubs over the years including Lizzy Yarnold, Hollie Harringdon, Max Denniff, Luke Blackaby, Danny Keirle, Alison and Josie Longhurst, Dan and Ben Tullett, Megan Bedoe and Hugo Coquelin among many others. I still feel very privileged to be Chairman after twenty years.

As for me, when I began my teaching career at Winchester House Prep School in 1962, I played football for Stone Street and Kemsing in the early days and a little hockey for Sevenoaks with Father O’Sullivan and the McGavin family.

My cycling has taken me on 10 Charity Cycle rides over all parts of the world and I am fortunate to still be fit enough to continue my cycling and swimming. I am a season ticket holder at Watford FC, the club I have followed since living in the area as a child, and am on the Committee for the 3 Arts Festival as well as being a member of Sevenoaks Amherst Rotary Club.
I feel extremely honoured to have been awarded the MBE in 2006 for services to education and the community in Kent and this year I was awarded the District Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 25 years of service to sports development in the area.

I am also grateful that St John’s Primary School, Sevenoaks Prep and Steephill School are still happy to put up with me as one of their governors. As Chairman of the Sports Council it is so rewarding to have the opportunity to support all that is being achieved by so many people in the Sevenoaks district.



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