Meet the Committee – Member profiles

Harry Matthews, Chairman

A member of Elswick since 1959 when he was just 12 years old, Harry is certainly one of our longest serving members. Over the years he has taken on various roles including boys, youths and veterans captain, chairman, vice chairman and president.

Now age 71, Harry continues to train regularly and to and compete to an excellent standard – quite an achievement. He is passionate about Elswick Harriers, which is all too evident from his 59 years of involvement with the club during which time Harry has seen many changes. Harry has commented,

“I am so pleased to have returned to the committee at a time when the club has much going for it. I am particularly pleased to see such a vibrant junior section that has some really enthusiastic coaches and helpers supporting it. The Bunnies group is a fairly new and expanding group and it is good to see how well they get on. The seniors’ section and masters’ section are well supported by some experienced coaching staff and I am so impressed by the turn out at cross country league meetings by so many of our members in all age groups.

In my role as chairman I would like to think I could support the committee members in taking the club to the next level. We have an enormous amount of skill and talent on our committee.
We do however, need more volunteers to help in various roles so that the club continues to thrive and develop.
Next year will be the clubs 130th anniversary. Let us enjoy the year and celebrate this milestone.
Best wishes to all our members and supporters. Harry”

Daniel Nettle – Treasurer

Daniel has been running for just over five years and a member of Elswick Harriers for four. He has certainly achieved a lot in running terms over those five years and is a fine example that you can take up running at any time in your life and excel at it.

Daniel is a stalwart of the senior training sessions and a regular competitor in all manner of races including Masters’ events. Daniel says,

Though I am not one of the fastest men, the club has helped me achieve a lot of goals that are very important to me, from the 800m to the marathon. I joined the committee as I wanted to help give something back. I am a scientist in my day job, and generally as comfortable with spreadsheets as with people, so treasurer seemed a natural choice. My role is to keep track of all the financial transactions coming in and out of the club.”

Such an enthusiastic, committed runner and Elswick Harrier, Daniel is a fantastic addition to the committee.

Graham Bell – Events Co-ordinator

Graham has been a member of the club since 2006 and joined the committee in 2012. Very soon Graham took on the role of the minute taker at all meetings and continues to undertake this task. In 2013, by popular demand, he was elected to Men’s Team Captain. Around the same time, Graham stepped into the breach when our senior coach Colin Bolton was hospitalised and became a temporary coach. “Temporary” turned into three years!

From there, Graham’s role continued to expand. At Frank Watson’s request, he began to assist with the organisation of the club hosted races: The Good Friday Relays, The Newburn River Run and the Norman Woodcock Memorial Race. As Graham says, “Together Frank and I forged a very canny team indeed! I took on an increased role in this respect, as an event co-ordinator on behalf of the club’s races. When Frank retired as Secretary in 2016, I took on the role full time.”

Thanks to Graham’s efforts, the Elswick races continue to thrive and prove ever popular. Graham also provides risk assessments for the club and its races. Given the extent of Graham’s roles, it was sensible for him give up the Men’s Team Captaincy in 2018 to focus on managing our events, which is a mammoth task, given the number of organisations that have to be liaised with to ensure the events can proceed. In addition to the three main Elswick races, Graham also organises the Boxing Day Paarlaufs, the annual presentations, event catering and is the main website administrator and contributor.

Graham is certainly our blue-sky thinker constantly coming up with new ideas for our events and general promotion of our club. You won’t see him on social media, so be sure to say hello at the beginning of the club sessions.

Keith Batey – Welfare officer

Keith takes on some very important and essential tasks in his role as the welfare officer as listed below:
• Ensure Safeguarding and Welfare of all club members
• Ensure all training / coaching staff are licenced and have a current DBS check obtained through England Athletics
• Ensure any safeguarding incidents / issues are dealt with as a matter of urgency and where appropriate reported to UKA
• Maintain a positive and proactive approach, across the club, to all matters relating to welfare.
We are very grateful to Keith for carrying out this role which requires a lot of commitment. Despite carrying the weight of these responsibilities, Keith still has time to participate in races and assist with leading the sessions for the Bunnies as their numbers continue to grow. Keith has recently acquired the Leadership in Running Fitness qualification. Keith is a very approachable and friendly gentleman who deals with our welfare matters in the most professional manner, so do speak to him if you have any welfare/safeguarding concerns. Alternatively, you can drop him an email using the following address:

Laura Clegg – committee member

As a relative new comer to the sport Laura joined the club in early 2017 as way to help her improve her running and she has never looked back.

Since joining she has enjoyed running on a more regular basis and says, “I have definitely benefited from the support of training with like-minded people and feel proud to pull on the Elswick vest at events. As a new member of the committee I’m looking forward to playing a role in ensuring the continued success and growth of the club over the coming year.”

We’re delighted that Laura has stepped up to join the committee. It is always good to have a fresh pair of eyes and ears to add to the views represented at committee meetings to ensure that all members’ needs are considered.

Michelle Coleman – social events co-ordinator

Michelle joined the club around five years ago. She particularly enjoys long weekend runs especially if they involve mud. Truly a hardy soul, cross country is her absolute favourite and when not running, she is also partial to a bit of open water swimming.

Michelle is a committee member and the Elswick Harriers Social Event Co-ordinator, and organises the Presentation Evening, the Boxing Day Paarlaufs and the Christmas do.

As well as sorting out our social calendar, Michelle is part of the Women’s captaincy group which organises the women’s teams and generally promotes and supports the women of Elswick.

Michelle can be contacted via regarding any general committee issues.

Richard Houghton – Men’s captain 

Having always been a keen footballer, Richard found himself seeking a new form of fitness training when numerous injuries prevented him from continuing to play.  The confirmation of his wife’s pregnancy in 2011 inspired him to get back to fitness, to allow him to be an active Dad and a positive role model to his child. On a tight budget due to nursery and baby costs Richard decided to try running.

Richard got started on his running journey by training alone adopting the method of running and walking to alternate lampposts and increasing the run distances around his rural Lincolnshire home.  He entered a few local  5k and 10k races, completing his first 10k race in 48:12. “I found I enjoyed the thrill of the race, and training for a set target – this was confounded by watching the 2012 Olympics and following its legacy I joined Bourne Town Harriers running club in late 2012.”

To be closer to his wife’s family, Richard and his wife decided to move to the North East.  Unlike most people who move to a new area, Richard determined that his arrival in Newcastle had to be by foot, so he planned and ran The Wall Ultra race in June 2015 – this was 69 miles from Carlisle Castle and finishing in Baltic Square. His first priority on arriving in Newcastle was to find a running club where he felt at home. “I sampled many clubs however Elswick Harriers stood out due to its friendliness and I joined this historic club in July 2015.”

I love running and everything that comes with it, I will compete in any distance on any terrain but I do favour the marathon distance strangely enough. I have been lucky enough to complete the Abbott World Marathon Majors in March 2019 in which incorporates 6 marathons across the world, Berlin, London, New York, Chicago, Boston and Tokyo, this has been a huge challenge alone just to fit in the necessary training in which there has been a lot of family understanding along the way. Upon finishing the Majors I received a silver platter from the club stating that I was the first Elswick Harriers to complete the set, this was a thoughtful touch from the club. 

Shortly afterwards I was shocked to discover that the men’s captain role had become vacant and that would I be interested in taking this on. It’s a huge honour to represent such a fantastic club and to guide the men along the way with Scott Brady in which I moved quickly to secure his services as becoming vice captain. I will be looking to add names that can support Scott and myself in our exciting roles, one of which is the experienced Dave Armstrong who has been at the club for many years.”


Andrea Banner – Women’s Team Captain

Andrea joined the club in 1999 having run in road races including marathons for five years as an “unattached”. She made huge improvements within months of training with the senior section of the club, taking off over 30 minutes in her marathon time. She was lucky enough to enjoy lots of team success with other females in the club like Jude Nutt, Susanne Stephenson, Yvonne Swinhoe and Kim Matthews. Andrea took around 5 years away from the club after the birth of her second child but returned in 2013 and took to training once again. She competes whenever she can when family commitments permit and continues to enjoy everything from cross country to marathon.

She joined the committee in 2017 as part of a new women’s collective of representatives to overcome the difficulty of finding a sole women’s captain. In order to formalise the role of the women’s collective, Andrea agreed to take on the role of Women’s Captain but continue to work with the other women in the group, namely Sara Blight, Cath Lowes, Arabella Arnott, Amy Brown and Michelle Coleman.

Andrea says, “The number of women joining Elswick increases year on year, and we have lots more females entering races. By working as a collective, we have a better chance of there being a women’s rep at each of the training sessions, the cross country and other team events. I’m delighted to be giving something back to the club, by doing whatever I can to help the other committee members to ensure the club continues to thrive.”

Derek Nelson – committee member

Derek is currently the Membership Secretary keeping our membership with England Athletics up to date with new members and resignations.

He joined Elswick Harriers in 1987 after completing two GNRs as a way of keeping fit. In 1993 Derek was “coerced /invited” on to the Committee where he has engaged in a number of roles. He took over the writing of the newsletter which was in a paper form back then, progressing to help set up the original web page with his daughter Sara’s help before it was moved on to our current website which is now run by Andy Middleton.

Derek was recognised for the variety of tasks he carried out when he was awarded the Quantum Services trophy in 1994 for services rendered to the club.

Thankfully, Derek did find time to train in and around his committee duties and pulled off some impressive race performances.  He says, “I have run numerous races from 5K to marathons, but with the help of the other members my best performances were London Marathon in 3.03 and Brampton to Carlisle in 59.58.”

Of his committee involvement, Derek comments, “Once you get elected onto the Committee then you get a lot of jobs to carry out, so since 1994, I have been the main Marshall for organising our races, setting up the events on the day, putting out signage, cones and barrier tape so that the events can be run safely.  Now currently still involved but would like more members to get involved with the running of the club.”

 Sage words indeed. You certainly get out of the club what you put in.  Without stalwarts like Derek, Elswick would not be the club it is today.

Noel Stoddart – committee member


 Noel is a new committee member having joined in November 2018, however he is not a newcomer to Elswick Harriers, having been a member of the club between the ages of 10 to 20.  His time as a junior member of the club clearly made a positive impact.  “I have great memories of training in big groups tearing through the streets of Fenham and of competing in muddy cross-countries and summer track leagues.”

As a senior Noel ran for Hounslow AC and was lucky enough to train with some very talented athletes and to enjoy being part of some very successful teams, making some life-long friends.

Not only a successful runner, Noel has turned his hand to coaching.  “I have coached junior and senior athletes at events from 800m through to marathon, including at the London and Rio Olympic Games. Having returned to the north east I was thrilled to be able to re-join Elswick and feel a part of what is a club with a real family feel. Getting ever slower, I still enjoy the trails, but mix running with other sports. I hope that as a part of the committee I can play a small role in the club being able to support athletes young and old achieve their goals.”

It is great to have Noel return to his Elswick roots and to bring his broad running experience and knowledge to the club.  He is clearly focused on making the club inclusive yet competitive and has already taken an interest in finding the best way to organise our internal club championship.


 Rob Emson – junior coach

On joining Elswick Harriers, Rob trained with the Seniors group.  He was lucky enough to win one of our ballot places for the 2016 London Marathon, a race that he had long set his sights on, and so he embarked on training for his first ever marathon.  His experience that day was eventful to say the least.  Rob recollects, “Although I stumbled and fell flat on my face at mile 20 (another take on “hitting the wall”), I jumped back up to finish, had a fantastic day and have always felt indebted to the Club for giving me the chance. Since then, I have done more marathons and like to think I can give some good words of advice on stamina training.”

A few years ago, Rob sacrificed his training sessions with the Seniors group to join the Junior coaching team, so that he could give something back to the Club.  He is now one of our newest committee members, having joined in November 2018.

“As one of the Junior coaches, I hope to help in all the good work the Committee do and to provide a link with our Junior section which is such an integral part of our great ClubI work with a very good team of Junior coaches and helpers which is very important if we are to help all the Juniors improve in their running. As we are all volunteers, it’s essential that we work well together in session planning and in actually delivering the sessions. I have enjoyed being able to gain from the knowledge of the other coaches and to explore the many different aspects of coaching methods. However, despite all the technical aspects of training, I think it’s fundamental to make training a fun experience so that our young runners can thrive in so many ways through running.”

It is fantastic to have a junior coach taking a place on the committee to ensure that the juniors’ needs are met.


Simon Lynch – committee member

Simon only took up running early in 2016 with a target of running his first half marathon in August that year. Having struggled to complete a 10K run, Simon joined Elswick in June 2016 with a view to radically improving his fitness levels ahead of the half marathon.  Simon remembers joining the club over two years ago, “To say I was nervous was an understatement; joining a club was quite a big step for me as I was anything but fit and there was this little voice inside my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough to run with peoplewho run weekin week out.I knew deep down I had nothing to worry about and was welcomed by everyone on my first session and again when I attended Newburn the following week. From there I began running regularly with the beginners/intermediate group which at the time was one combined run.

Moving forward 12 months, Simon approached the committee regarding completion of the LiRF (Leader in Running Fitness) course which would enable him to lead a separate group as the number of people attending the runs had increased to a size which could not be supported. (This has recently been expanded again to 3 groups with some club nights attracting up to 35 runners.)

In November 2017, Simon joined the committee as a member without a specific title or responsibility.  Simon’s aim in his volunteering at the club is to provide a voice to those in the Beginners & Intermediate groups as well as being able to feedback club information to Elswick members.  In the relatively short time that Simon has been at Elswick, he has made an invaluable contribution, not least with his running leadership.  He continues to develop new skills to enhance his running leadership.  In June 2018, he undertook the Sight Loss Awareness Course which enabled Simon and the club to support the development of visually impaired runners.  In February 2019 Simon will lead his first Couch to 5K group, which he hopes will inspire yet more new runners to join Elswick.

When not engaged in his many roles at the club, Simon also continues to set new personal bests in his running performances, currently training for his third, fourth and fifth marathons which he says would not have been possible without the help and support of his fellow Elswick harriers.

Track & Field 2019: Date for your diary.

Hello Team Elswick. Cath Lowes from our club has handed over the following Track & Field Competition Dates. They are: Sunday 19th May – University of York Sports Centre. Sunday 16th June – Eastbourne Sports Complexing Darlington. Sunday 14th July – Middlesborough Sports Village. Saturday 10th August Monkton Stadium Jarrow. Anyone wanting to compete in the composite Elswick/ Blaydon Track & Field Team, keep the following dates free. For further information about have talk with Cath Lowes on the club’s FaceBook page. Thank you (photos below from previous season(s). A good team competition, something different to road running, why not give it go? 🙂

Winter 5km handicap

Elswick Winter 5K Preliminary Results

36 hardy souls took part in Tuesday’s 5km handicap held at One North East. Despite the sub zero temperatures there were some great performances as well as a few pb’s! Very well done to everyone who took part. The event has received fantastic feedback on Facebook by those who took part. Preliminary results are attached above.

A massive thanks must go to Tom, Ian, Derek, Graham and Johnny who stood around in the freezing cold to ensure that everyone set off at the correct handicap and that finishing times were recorded.



Club Presentation Evening – Important Update!

Demand has exceeded supply! So the committee has sought an alternative venue for the presentation evening:






Kindly note: Any vegetarian / Vegan / Dietary requirements, please let Michelle know, via the clubs FB page. Thank you.



Club Run Groups – Week Commencing 21/01/2019

This week’s Group Runs are as  follows: Tuesday 22nd January 2019. Les will be leading a group between 3-4 miles at a slow & steady conversational pace. Simon will be leading both intermediate group’s , approximately 5.5 miles at a pace of 8– 11 min miles to accommodate all levels. We will be heading over Newburn Bridge and along the riverside to Blaydon Burn , up through the Burn and them turnaround and come back. Mainly flat with a hill at around 2 miles.

Thursday 24th January 2019. Les will again be leading a group between 3-4 miles at a slow & steady conversational pace. As it stands Simon will be leading both intermediate groups , however this is subject to change! This run will be the usual distance of approximately 5.5 miles at a pace of 8-11 minute miles but will be mainly on hills around Throckley / Heddon way. Head Torches / hi Vis are a must for both Group Runs. For anyone who is interested there is a longer run planned for Saturday 26th January meeting at The Perry , Hillheads Road at 0900 it will be a distance of approximately 10-12 miles – route to be determined.

Senior sessions for Tuesday 22nd and Thursday 24th Jan

The senior sessions for Tuesday 22nd and Thursday 24th Jan will be,
Tuesday 22nd: 5km handicap. Meet at Bus Stop at one North East after warm up. Tom will be using the finish times from the last 5km session to set your handicap. If you didn’t take part last time and would like to run in this one then please let myself or Andrea know asap. We will then forward your name to Tom. This will avoid a lot of hanging about on the night while handicap times are being set.
Thursday 24th: Indoor circuits followed by 6 x 2 mins on centre field with 1 min recovery.

Safety Notice!

Please take extra care when travelling, and running, to and from the club tonight. Graham Bell has just called to say that he’s been for a run along Grange Road and Blaney Row and that there’s black ice on the footpaths and road

NECAA Road Relays, 16th Feb at Hetton Lyons Country Park

The NECAA Road Relays take place on Saturday 16th Feb at Hetton Lyons Country Park. Each runner covers a total of 2.22 miles on a 2 lap course. Senior/Vet women and V50+ Vet men are made up of 4 legs and the Senior/V40+ men have 6 legs. If you’d like to take part then please let myself or Andrea Banner kow as soon as possible as we will close the list next Friday in order to look at team line-ups. I’ve attached a link to the race prospectus below.


Northumberland Schools XC Championships

Thank you to Jan and Ken for the report. Northumberland Schools was held 15th January 2019 at Temple Park South Shields. Cool but sunny, good running conditions, Elswick Harriers had a great turnout of juniors who represented their schools. All had previously raced to qualify for this XC representing different regions of the county. Well done for getting this far.

Minor Boys 24th Adam Robinson 11.55. 35th Aaron Ikwue 12.13. 54th Elliot Kelso 12.37. 84th Bailey Shore 14.37. Junior Boys 5th Zac Old 15.24. 52nd Charles Mason 18.39. Intermediate Boys 38th Kieran Dixon 23.33. Minor Girls 2nd Poppy Old 10.56. 7th Lucy Milburn 11.50. 19th Sophie Henderson 12.26. 27th Bella Russell 12.38. 52nd Katy Bullock 13.45. 53rd Ellie Winter 13.54.
Junior Girls 12th Zara Naughton 12.18. 13th Caitlin Flanagan 12.21. 30th Imogen Bungay 13.20. 58th Emma Robinson 14.38. Intermediate Girls 5th Suzannah Fielding 17.19. 8th Hannah Tumia 17.24. 13th Charley Lee 18.13. 16th Emily Allison 18.33. 31st Aimee Bairstow 20.46. Top 16 will qualify to represent Northumberland in the next round. Which will again be held at Temple Park on the 2nd February we will be competing against Cleveland, Cumbria, Durham and North Yorkshire. Well done to all that competed.