Horsham Judo Club celebrated 40 years of service last year and clubman Derek Paxton has been recognised for his remarkable life time contribution to the sport.
The club, which was started by Paxton back in 1976, hosts training sessions for fighters from the age of four all the way through to senior standard.
Since being opened, Horsham have been registered with The British Judo Association - the governing body for judo in Great Britain - while also being recognised by both Olympic Association and Sports Council.
The club has always been inclusive, with a previous cerebral palsy sufferer going on to represent GB in Dublin, while a blind judoka is currently practising.
Having coached more than a hundred martial artists during his time at Horsham, chief instructor Paxton, 63, has reflected on a memorable 40 years.
He said: “It’s fantastic for the club to be still be running in what is its 41st year now. I’m starting to feel old coaching some third generation pupils now! Judokas I used to teach some time ago are bringing their offspring along, which is fantastic.
“I’ve always wanted to pursue this sport as a career and I’ve been fortunate enough to do that.”
Fourth dan black belt Paxton has had an incredible 50 years involved in judo, which have been recognised with a recent accolade.
Having been involved with the under-21 British Olympic squad, disaster struck as an industrial accident resulted in him losing two-and-a-half fingers, putting an end to his fighting career.
Determined to stay involved in the sport, Paxton decided to qualify as a coach, which in turn resulted in him starting Horsham Judo Club.
Alongside his coaching role, the current Horsham chief instructor took up refereeing, following in the footsteps of his father.
Reflecting on a fascinating 50 years, Paxton added: “I wasn’t anticipating running a club at 22 but circumstances then forced me to. My father was a referee and I wanted to follow in his footsteps as well.
“The high-point of my refereeing career was officiating the 1990 European team competition between France and Russia in Dubrovnik.
“I was also elected onto the Sussex committee in the same year as my injury. During my time on the Sussex board, I held various positions - treasurer, squad manager, refereeing representative, grading officer, before retiring as chairman.”
Horsham are on the look-out for members. Sessions are held on Tuesday and Thursday’s at Southwater Leisure Centre, for more information visit horshamjudoclub.com or contact Derek on 07778670124.