Community Spotlight: Brown retiring after two decades with ESJBA

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9 July, 2024

In the words of one of the bands he used to tour with, William Brown’s achievements in badminton have been ‘Going Underground’ for too long.

The 72-year-old has been volunteering in the sport for more than 30 years and has just retired from his role as chairman of the East Sussex Junior Badminton Association, which he co-founded 20 years ago.

During his 14 years as chairman, he took on many roles within the club, dedicating his time and effort to developing the juniors.

“When you’re volunteering and helping out, you feel like you’re contributing and doing something really good,” he said.

“I recently helped out in the Kent Disability Tournament – it’s just admin, directing people and generally helping out – but you really feel like you’ve contributed something worthwhile.”

And throughout his time with ESJBA, Brown made plenty of worthwhile contributions, from being tournament referee on the Championships, assistant and lead coach, secretary, compliance officer, child welfare officer, website administrator, funding and grants and treasurer.

“I was made ESJBA chairman by default, really, because nobody else wanted to do it,” he said.

“In my time leading the organisation, we managed to achieve Premier status as a club, organise annual tournaments and special events and we have also been very successful with grants.

“Because of these grants and having a commercial sponsor for 12 years, we have been able to offer cheap training sessions to the kids.”

From winning badminton awards as a youngster in the 1960s, Brown became a coach in 1989 and has remained involved with the sport, coaching and being a committee member with Kent Badminton for 14 years before setting up ESJBA.

During the 1970s and 80s, he was touring the world with rock bands including The Jam, Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy as a sound engineer.
But even during these years, he would seek out a way to stay involved with the sport and always included his prized possession in his luggage.

“During that time touring, I actually toured my badminton racket,” Brown added. “I had to carry it in a special case so it wouldn’t get damaged and could come with me.“I would play the army sports people wherever I was, find some sports facilities and find opponents to play.

“I played on Ascension Island in 40 degrees plus just in my underwear – not a pretty sight!”

During Brown’s time with ESJBA, he has encouraged many parents to get involved as coaches, assistants, treasurers and helpers, committing hundreds of hours of his personal time to running the organisation.

As he steps away from ESJBA, he will not be stepping away from the sport as he continues to play in the over 70s for Sussex and has already won a trophy this year in his local league.

Away from badminton, he is happily married for 43 years to Valerie and he is a member of The Handlebar (Moustache) Club.

He has traded the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for the big screen and has been starring as an extra in films including Harry Potter, Paddington and the Muppets, something he hopes to continue to do more of.

ESJBA Vice Chairman Martin Bilton said: “On behalf of hundreds of players and parents, ESJBA would like to say a heartfelt thank you to William for his years of commitment and wish him (and his wife Valerie) all the best for the years ahead.”

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