Bob Colhoun Celebrates 90th Birthday

Ulster

Bob Colhoun Celebrates 90th Birthday

A true elder statesman and local sports administrator of renown Bob Colhoun MBE celebrated his 90th Birthday surrounded by friends and colleagues who have known him as simply ‘Bob’ or ‘Mr Badminton’.

Indeed he admints to having no knowledge of the sport of badminton until coming to the end of his university studies in August 1950 and his first job at Ferranti’s.

When Bob joined Alpha Badminton Club in Lisburn on his return to the province five years later, the former pupil of RBAI was quickly snapped up as Honorary Secretary and it could not have been a more astute appointment as he was to become one of the most respected of sporting administrators in the country with Bob benefitting from his ‘hands on’ and visionary approach.

With the formation of a Juvenile club harnessing the latent talent, the club was to grow exponentially and he was to combine his early talents as a coach with becoming a willing taxi driver to matches and tournaments the length and breadth of the countryside in his trusty Volvo.

In the late Sixties Alpha had been fundraising for some years as they were to combine with Hilden Tennis Club and when total assets reached £8,000 they were to receive grant aid from the Ministry of Education for a new pavilion for Hilden and Badminton courts for Alpha with squash also being included, Lisburn Racquets Club was to be born and the three court badminton hall was appropriately named The Colhoun Hall.

With the upsurge in interest in the sport Alpha players were to enjoy considerable success not only locally but were to dominate Ulster and later Irish sides and Alpha continues today to go from strength to strength with the seemingly endless list of international honours being won by successive Alpha members in all age groups.

Bob was responsible for introducing a Christmas tournament for young players and at one stage it was being played throughout the province with entries reaching over 600 in the 1980s and was also responsible for an international event which attracted some of the top international players to the Lisburn venue in the pre Open era.

Bob has received many honours including an MBE in 2014 but he was also the recipient of a Meritorious Award from the BWF which was presented to him in front of a packed Maysfield Leisure Centre which was hosting a Europe v Asia International.

Despite being the visionary, Bob was also a character in the true sense of the word, shunning publicity and still receives the greatest satisfaction from seeing the hordes of youngsters visiting the club throughout the week and taking advantage of the now splendid facilities which he has made a large contribution to in bringing to this part of Lisburn.

Piece by Brian Kelly.

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