Sheree Totton has been named as Banbridge Hockey Club’s first ever lady President.
She was officially voted in at the club’s AGM on Thursday, having served as vice-president since the men’s and ladies’ clubs merged back in 2012.
“It’s an absolute honour, especially at a club that is one of the top clubs in Ireland and one that has such a long history. The men’s hockey club has been running for 117 years and the ladies club is around 70 years old now,” she said.
Sheree was involved in Banbridge Ladies Hockey Club for many years as a player and in more recent times as a coach and umpire. She was a member of the Ladies Club Committee for several years and has held various positions.
“I suppose in one respect, it’s a big thing for the men to have a female as President but it’s big for the ladies too,” Sheree told the ‘LEADER.’
“It raises the profile of the ladies but to be fair to the men, they have always been very equitable since the merger of the two clubs. “I’m really looking forward to it. When we got the roles, I was a bit apprehensive about it but then I thought, I’m just going to go and enjoy it.”
With the men’s first team fighting for national honours year-on-year, the club are keen to help the ladies side to move to higher levels.
“I’m very much a club person and I’ll be giving equally to both sides of the club,” said Sheree.
“Obviously the men are already in a premier side and we want to help the ladies progress to that level as well but we all support each other from the junior teams up, right from the youngest player to the older ones.”
Sheree paid tribute to the previous committee with the club moving very much in the right direction.
The outgoing president Neil Madeley will now hold the post of vice-president.
“Neil has done a fantastic job over the last two years as President steering the newly established Executive Committee following the integration of the ladies club and ensuring the new set up worked efficiently,” said Sheree.
“He also played a huge part in bringing the Irish Hockey League Finals weekend to Banbridge this year which was a tremendous success for the club. The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, attending meetings on behalf of the club and working with members is totally underestimated and I would like to thank Neil for all his efforts during his term in office.”
Hosting the IHL finals weekend was a huge step for the club and their Havelock Park ground as a venue for major hockey matches. Now the new president is hoping Ireland could even play in Banbridge:
“It was a big coup for the club, getting to host the IHL finals and also what we’re hoping to get following that weekend. We’re hoping that we can get international games coming to the north, rather than always being down in Dublin.
“It would be great, not just for the club but for the whole Banbridge community.”
Banbridge would probably have a heavy respresentation on that Ireland side, such is the club’s record of producing internationals. Sheree was also quick to praise Bann’s high-flying players.
She said: “We have great homegrown Irish inernationals who give up their time to pass on what they have learned and help the other players at the club. It’s a family club and we just have to build on that now.
“We’re looking at developing our younger players and helping them to progress through the club, without forgetting about the junior teams.
“We’ve started our plan for the club and now we just have to build on what is already happening.”
Following her election as President, Sheree also said:
“I’d like to thank the members for putting their support in me for the next two years. It is an honour to be elected to this position and indeed to become the first lady President of the club. I will strive to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors and take this club forward and I will endeavour to do all I can to work for the benefit of all our members in this great club.”
Sheree also thanked the members of the Executive Committee and particularly Lee Tumilty and Patrick Grimes for their contribution to the club over the past two years. Both have stepped down from their roles as Treasurer and Grounds and Facilties Co-Ordinator respectively and have been succeeded by Colin Dowds and James Bingham.
The newly elected Executive Committee is as follows: President: Sheree Totton, Vice President: Neil Madeley, Hon. Secretary: John Bell, Hon. Treasurer: Colin Dowds, Bar: Nigel Allister, Senior Hockey: Douglas Anderson, Fundraising: Jo-Anne Lyttle, Media, Communications and PR: Aileen Lawson, Junior Hockey: Julie Craig, Clubhouse and Facilities: James Bingham, Strategic Planning: Alison Wilson.