Sunday, December 3, 2023

Devon side Taw Valley celebrate 40th birthday

Taw Valley Hockey Club celebrated its 40th anniversary this month with former members joining the fun in their first ever Testimonial Match.

Taw Valley has a proud heritage, starting players on their way to international and domestic league hockey, including two World Masters and a Women’s Premier League joint top scorer.

Boasting a membership of nearly 200 from ages four to 70, Taw Valley aims to inspire and nurture grassroots players.

Welcoming back Welsh over 45s captain Annie Petherick to the Park Astroturf saw the former Taw Valley player join in with the youngest members in the morning session and playing alongside her former team-mates in the afternoon’s exhibition matches. Junior keeper Riley was beaming after saving one of 3 penalty shuffles against the World Master. 

The afternoon session included a parents vs Under 16s match, with three parents picking up a stick for the first time. The mixed mini tournament followed with friends from North Devon Hockey Club joining in the festivities. 

The day culminated with the Robins, Smith and Blair Testimonial Match, with former players, current members and North Devon Hockey Club coming together to celebrate Taw Valley’s most influential and longest serving stalwarts. 

Current England Over 70s Manager and LX Ladies Over 65s Master Gill Robins has been credited with inspiring many to take up the sport since the club formed back in 1983. The former teacher bringing many of her students to the club, she has become an integral part of Taw Valley folklore. 

With 22 years as club chair, Heather Smith is the spirit of Taw Valley. A hugely respected coach, umpire and Player she has steered the club through many challenges and continues to inspire. Without Heather and her commitment to her club, the possibility of a 40th anniversary would be a dream. 

Marilyn Blair continues to shine on the pitch but was considering hanging up her stick last season. Playing alongside current and former teammates in her own Testimonial has reignited the fire within and the club are hopeful to hold onto this incredibly talented and much loved legend.

Annie remarked how the club had grown over the years whilst still retaining it’s family feel.  “Great to see Taw Valley is still incredibly family friendly, diverse and inclusive. Loved meeting parents who had never tried hockey before nd those returning after many years away. Small Yet Mighty. Absolutely!”

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