John’s Olympic Honour

Salvation Army bandsman John Willson has received a surprise honour. He has been chosen to part of the 8000 strong relay team team to carry the Olympic torch for part of its journey in July. John said ‘It came right out of the blue; it was a real surprise to me. It is indeed a great honour.’

John Willson in Team 2012 shirt

John Willson in Team 2012 shirt

That honour comes in recognition of the part John plays at mainly local but also regional and national level to get young people involved in the sport of archery. Some of John’s pupils have gone on to represent their country in the sport.

John has a long track record in helping young people: Hadleigh Marching Militaire, SABAC (Salvation Army Boys’ Adventure Club and Archery as well as teaching percussion.

John’ peers wrote a citation that went through Essex and national sport committees and was eventually accepted by LOCOG. Here is  what they said:


John has worked with young people for over 50 years. He was the founder of The Hadleigh Marching Militaire. He did as much for them as he has for archery by making them known internationally. John has been associated with archery for over 25 years. His archery career began whilst running his SABAC group for junior boys in The Salvation Army where he not only introduced them to archery but many other sporting and adventure activities. John wanted to develop his own archery skills and joined Rayleigh Town Archery Club where he soon became Head Coach. Since then the club has gone from strength to strength; making it what it is today.

John helping youngsters learn archery

John helping youngsters learn archery

In September, John arranged for Rayleigh Town to host the impressive Regional Southern Counties Championships, as he does every year, with over 110 archers.  There was a grand opening ceremony combining 3 different celebrations. Firstly, the opening of Rayleigh Town’s newly improved outdoor facilities; where John’s first stage of planning became a reality – with running water, electricity and a separate toilet block for men and women. Unable to secure funding, John and one of the other club members had to put their hands in their own pockets to ensure that he project took place. John co-ordinated the digging of a long trench, for pipe work to be laid and connected into the main sewer as well the partitioning for walls within the toilet block. There is also 60ft of decking and railings connecting the toilet block and Club House together making easy access. For John’s second stage he wants to be able to install matching disabled toilet, provide ground matting and shades for wheelchairs and disabled access. The second celebration was in recognition of the 150th Anniversary for Archery GB. John arranged happy birthday music and purchased a huge rocket and arranged a speech to be read from Archery GB. As a final celebration, John had organised flags and banners that were raised; along with Legacy 2012 oaths to be read while ‘Space Odyssey’ music played in the background. With a lot of thought, effort and time John made this a special event for everyone.

John will ‘bend over backwards’ to help anyone, especially those in need. He manages to fund the purchase of club archery equipment in order to help juniors participate in the sport. He provides opportunities for the family to be involved within archery. He is always there, ready to listen and help out wherever possible; trying to solve problems and be around to cheer people up.

As a previous employee of Archery GB, John travelled around the country helping to set up archery clubs within sports colleges. He was able to help them by obtaining grants and training them in the player pathway. In practising this method John has provided many young people with the opportunity of archery. The Deanes School where he also coaches, he encourages juniors to join Rayleigh Town Archery Club which allows them to enter different archery competitions around the country. For the past 10 years he has hosted an Archery Festival for primary schools. A great morning is had by all followed by a fantastic awards ceremony. John also has been responsible for writing the GCSE Archery syllabus for schools and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for Archery, and the Club Mark Programme; He is actively involved in all of them.

John has travelled the world giving his support to the Archery GB Junior Squad. He is involved in the Junior Archery GB Talent Identity Development Team helping to select juniors from across the country; giving them the opportunity to become part of the GB junior training squad. He is currently the chairman of the National Junior Committee; also chairman of the Essex Archery Guild he is responsible for coach renewals, as well as a County Coach. He is a Child Protection Officer for Essex and SCAS. He only shoots now days on rare occasions due to time spent helping others. John also does a lot behind the scenes raising funds and answering the 150 emails that he regularly receives, sorting out problems or answering questions. Most of them related to Archery!

John is also a music teacher and runs 3 evening music schools with the other 2 evenings taken up doing archery and squeezing in meetings connected to these which leaves him with 1 evening for himself to perform playing percussion. As you can see John has a lot of strings to his bow. John is the back bone to his club and many others. His ideas, organisational skills and just getting people together, is second to none. He listens, is kind, caring, understanding, helpful, supportive and will always offer advice to anyone. What a remarkable man he is for all has achieved anddone and the opportunities he has given to others.

He really is: Mr 100% ArcheryGB is our John Willson


Olympic torch

Olympic torch

John will be carrying the torch in Hatfield Peverel between 08:40 and 09:00 on Friday July 6th.

Later that day the torch comes to Hadleigh. It is due to arrive at 13:48 and will come from Southend along the A13 and pass the Temple, turning left into Chapel Lane to visit the site of the Mountain Biking Event.

Details: BBC Website


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