John Grady , who has been involved with the Mont à l’Abbé Gym Club for more than a decade, has been appointed on a two-year contract.
His brief is to continue to encourage young people with a learning difficulty to take up gymnastics as a sport; to continue to support existing members of the Mont à l’Abbé Gym Club; to arrange competitions and displays, fundraising and club fund management and, probably most importantly, to develop a strategy for sustainability after the contracted period of employment.’I felt the club had got to a level where the huge commitment shown by the members needed someone who would ensure its long-term future,’ Grady said.’My job over the next two years is to get everything in place so that the momentum will continue for the long-term.
There is a problem in the Island, particularly with some of the smaller sports, who have people involved who give that sport a boost in the short term, but then they leave and the sport slumps.
My job is also to ensure that the standards are maintained.’He said that he had been party to the setting-up of the post in his capacity as coach for the club, with which he has had links for around 14 years, since he was appointed headteacher at the school.’There were about ten members of the club then.
Membership grew, as did the number of pupils at the school, with the headteacher’s job growing alongside.
I made the decision to move solely to the gym side and give up the headship.
Financially it was a daft decision, but in terms of job satisfaction it was a very good move.’Education had supported his decision by offering him a part-time post.’They were very supportive, they valued what was being done at the Gym club.’Grady has been in Jersey since 1978 and has held a variety of posts within Education, at Le Rocquier School, St Helier Girls/Grainville, then Highlands before moving to Mont à l’Abbé.’I feel as though I belong here, I think that is because I’ve put something into the community.
The club membership is currently around the 40 mark.
Numbers go up and down, but overall they are increasing, with more wanting to join.
The club members train very hard and would train five nights a week if they could.
One lad would die for his sport,’ he added, ‘but there are others who skive now and then who need the occasional, metaphorical, kick up the backside.’He says his first task will be to maintain what the club already has and to build on that.’Then I’ll start to build on the longer-term and work out an action plan which makes sense! The post, formalises what I’ve been doing already on an informal basis and I’m looking forward to getting on with the job.’Paul Patterson, speaking on behalf of JSAD, said the appointment, which has been funded by Education, Sport and Culture, the Lloyds TSB Foundation, Jersey Mencap and the Variety Club of Jersey, is a significant milestone in their history and it reflects a significant increase in the amount of time required to sustain the very high levels of achievement that have been nationally and internationally recognised by Jersey’s special gymnasts.