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.


Steve Robertson – Men’s Team Captain

Modest to the last, when asked to describe himself for this profile, Steve used 12 words, “My roles now include Men’s Team Captain, Seniors Coach and Kit Manager.”

However, there is much more to our Men’s Team Captain. He joined Elswick at the age of 15 and was an active member of the junior section during his school years. Since re-joining the club in around 2011, he has thrown himself back into competition participating across the disciplines of road, track and cross country and is one of our fastest male veteran runners.

Not content to just train and compete, Steve has given a lot back to the club initially by way of his responsibility for our Elswick kit. Whatever you want from the kit list, Steve will organise your order from Kits4All including its collection from the supplier and onward delivery to you at the club. He has also gained his first coaching qualification which means that he often leads the senior session when our first coach Tom Hanson is absent.

Owing to work commitments, Steve stood down as club Chairman in November 2018, but could not retire from the committee as it was evident that he was the natural choice for Men’s Team Captain. Look out for Steve’s posts on Facebook about race events and collation of names for relay and cross- country teams. Much like his writing for this profile, he likes a pithy response to his posts – “If you want to be included, reply to this post saying “yes.’” However, do check out his non-Elswick posts on Facebook which consist of wry observations of life and never fail to raise a laugh.


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.




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