Grantham Journal Big Interview: ‘Tyreless’ dedication of cycling club chair

Janet East of Witham Wheelers.
Janet East of Witham Wheelers.
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When you think of Witham Wheelers cycling club, Janet East’s name follows in tandem.

On the committee for over three decades, the 70-year-old has helped develop generations of cyclists, including within her own family! That’s why she was joint Service to Sport winner at Grantham is Great.

How did you become involved in the club?

My husband was a racing cyclist with the Sleaford Wheelers, and we found out about Witham Wheelers which hadn’t got many members. At first I was just the wife helping to make the tea, but we used to go on family cycling holidays in the New Forest which made me think we should have more activities for youngsters. With members John Edwards and Ian Wilkinson, we worked with John Newman and the English Schools Cycling Association to make sure all the schools had cycling clubs. I was invited to join the committee in 1983 – since then I’ve been treasurer and chairman, and the club has grown from about 40 members to 180 plus. And it’s a social club too, with lots of social events.

What activities do Witham Wheelers run?

We do indoor and road cycling. On a Sunday morning we meet at the club’s HQ at Grantham Cricket Club to complete different distances. We also have Go-Ride sessions for under 15s as part of British Cycling’s development of youngsters. During the winter we have turbo training sessions indoors on fixed bikes, and roller racing where the static bikes are placed on metal rollers.

Is the club involved in the development of cycling talent at a national level?

Yes – for example brothers Rodney and Richard Ellingworth joined when they were aged around 14 and 17. Rodney is now head of performance at Team Sky, and he has come back as a guest speaker along with champion cyclists like Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Barry Hoban. We have also taken our members to race at Manchester Velodrome, and quite a few are going on to compete nationally.

And your whole family is involved in the club?

Yes – my husband used to race, but was seriously injured after being run over by a forklift truck, so took up photography and now takes the club photos. And our children and grandchildren all cycle too.

* To find out more on the club, and how to join, go to www.withamwheelers.co.uk