What a success story this club is! Rachel Tonge set up Tumbling Trampoliners two years ago, and in that time the club has grown from one trampoline to seven – which is a bit of a squeeze for the dance studios they operate out of at the YMCA in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
I went along to have a chat with the members about Sporting Stories - and I think I might have found the most productive 'writing club' yet. I spent over four hours with them, through three back-to-back sessions, and ended up with nine really nice bits of writing – and a wealth of trampoline art (which looks like becoming a genre in its own right) from the younger members or their even younger siblings. What was striking was the number of mums who had brought their kids along to the club and ended up joining it in their own right. For some of them the trampoline, as so often with sport, was their way of getting away from the stresses and demands of everyday life.
One of the unusual aspects of the club is that every one of the seven trampolines is different – and each has its own name and character. They are stored away between sessions so there is a lot of physical work to be done at the start and end of each day in getting the kit set up or taken down. The day I went I had arrived early so I quickly got roped in the help get the trampolines set up. Everybody seemed to wade in and help in getting the very heavy frames out and put up: it was fascinating to see how even the more slightly built club members threw themselves into the carefully choreographed routine, with four per trampoline.
With all seven trampolines out there isn’t a huge amount of room left in the dance studio – but luckily just enough to get my little workshop area of table and seats set up for the younger club members – and then they all start arriving. Rachel says a little bit about why I’m there and very quickly I’ve got a horde of younger club members scribbling away and producing art and poetry for me. What catches me by surprise is the number of mums who volunteer their stories too, some of them incredibly moving, some short, some long – and many singing the praises of Rachel and what she has done for them and their children through Tumbling Trampoliners.