Diane Wiltshire recalls the early days and moves on to more recent times
Today the club is fairly well known as a place where you can experience fencing at all levels. We aim to be friendly and outgoing to all who want to have a go.
I have been involved in the club since 1982 when my youngest daughter, then aged 7, wanted to fence. Jim Pearce was coach then and also ran the club, which he was organising as an elite junior fencing club taking experienced junior fencers from senior schools in Filton, Patchway, Portishead and their surrounding areas. Two fencers also travelled from Cheddar.
I have done some research and can find references to Raven Fencing Club in 1975. The club was an adults club with experienced fencers, some of whom are still fencing, but scattered around the country. Jim Pearce fenced with the Bristol Fencing Club (still in existence, now meeting at Cottham School) but in the Gloucestershire Amateur Fencing Association records for 1976 he gives his club as “Raven Fencing Club”. The present club owes its existence to Jim Pearce who taught his children to fence here, and then decided to devote his life to creating excellent and proficient fencers. He traveled to many schools in Gloucestershire and Somerset and in time his group of individual excellent fencers were bringing home the trophies.
These elite fencers were soon travelling to competitions all over the country. Fencing at the time was mostly only being taught at public schools, so the venues for the competitions were Eton College, Queens College, Taunton, Millfield School, and many others. Raven fencers had a memorable match against the England team at Crystal Palace, and also regularly qualified for the age-group finals in places as far away as Glasgow and Chester.
Jim retired in 1989 and several fencing coaches came to help us out, Kemel Ibraheim being the most popular. He was training to be a doctor and when he gained his qualification he had no time for coaching but luckily for us, Shaun Garley had just qualified as a coach and has been with us ever since.
Shaun takes an active part in the club and is coach for the holiday scheme in August. He is a full time coach, mainly in Stroud and surrounding areas and we are thankful he is able to include us in his busy schedule. Some of his fencers are very skilled and are beginning to bring home the trophies.
Roger Calderbank and I are grateful to all the other adult fencers who are taking an active part in the running of the club because with them, Raven Fencing Club will continue to offer Fencing into and beyond the new Millennium.