TEAM EFFORT: Turf Turners tug of war club is looking for more pullers
TEAM EFFORT: Turf Turners tug of war club is looking for more pullers

A TROPHY-winning tug of war club is hoping to pull in more members from across the dale to help strengthen its success.

Since starting in April 2016, members of Turf Turners have gone on to represent England and compete in the European games. The club was initially set up to give members of the young farmers’ clubs the opportunity to build on their techniques.

There are currently ten regular members who meet weekly for training at Bollihope Shield Farm, in Frosterley, which is owned by Graham and Sandra Wilkinson. Fitness training is provided by coach and ex-army man David Callard. Tug of war and rope technique training is taken by coach and former Steel Edge puller Alan Maddison and Mrs Wilkinson herself who is a former Kilroe women’s puller. More pullers are being invited to help strengthen the club.

An open day is being held on site on Sunday, March 4, to give people an insight into the sport and what being part of the club involves.

Club supporter Heidi Maddison said: “As a club we would like to keep growing and improving. We compete in local and national competitions. We have had a great year and we just want to grow from that. We want to continue competing as Turf Turners and have a full squad. The open day will show people what we do. It is not all about the rope though. There will be fun activities too.”

The open day will run from 2pm to 5pm and will include crossfit training and opportunities for people to experience the rope. Last year, members Katie Maddison and Hannah Maddison, of Weardale Young Farmers, together with Danielle Pounder and Pete Medd, of Staindrop Young Farmers, represented England in the UK and Irish championships. Father and daughter duo, Katie and Alan Maddison, also made it to the European championships in Southport along with Peter Medd.

Mrs Maddison said: “We did really well last year. Four of our members pulled for England. The girls brought home second place. Three members also went to the European championships. To just get there was fantastic.

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“We also took two teams to the Young Farmers Nationals pulling against the best. The following day at Cheshire Game and Angling Fair they competed in the 4+4 category and came second to Norton who went on to win the European championships.”

Training sessions are held every Thursday and Sunday at Bollihope Shield Farm. Pulling starts at 7.30pm but members can come earlier to do weight training. Pullers train using a gantry which has a static rope attached to it. Investment in the training area means that members can now pull all year round.

Mrs Maddison said: “We will be starting to pull again this year as soon as the weather is good enough.

“We have juniors and people up to the age of 60 pulling. It is for everyone. It is a lovely family atmosphere. We have great spectators too. The Tug of War Association is a nice and friendly association.

“No experience is needed. You will get all of the training you need when you join. It is good to keep fit.”

The club is expecting to welcome England’s under-23 ladies coach David Kitchener for a training session later in the year. Mrs Maddison added: “If people are unsure about joining they can just come along and see what it’s like first and see if they want to get involved. We generally find though that the people who come along love it.”

Membership costs £10. Training sessions cost £1. Contact Mrs Maddison on 01388 527310.