AFTER two decades of dedicating her working life to Somerset’s sporting youngsters, leisure assistant and Badminton coach, Helen Manfield is retiring from Preston Sports Centre, near Yeovil.

John Major was Britain’s Prime Minister, Oasis and Blur stormed the charts back in 1994 when Helen started as a leisure assistant at Preston Sports Centre, coaching many of the hundreds of local youngsters and adults she has encouraged to take up the sport of Badminton.

Helen has worked with local schools and Badminton clubs, giving unstinting support and passing on her expertise and enthusiasm to the local community. She has coached players to county and national standard, including the British Deaf Badminton Champion Kirstie Allen from Yeovil.

Helen, from Tintinhull near Yeovil, has coached all ages from six to 80 years old and she has seen Preston Sports Centre redeveloped into a first class facility for sport in Yeovil.

Although Helen is continuing with some Badminton clubs she is retiring from the post of leisure assistant to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Preston Sports Centre Manager, Matt Harras says that Helen’s unique skill and knowledge will be sorely missed; “ Helen is a true sporting hero, where would any of our top athletes be without coaches such as Helen putting in countless hours at Grass Roots level helping youngsters get a start in sport and to go to excel to County standard. Helen has proved to be a fantastic member of the team here at Preston and we are going to miss her insight and experience at the centre.”

To celebrate Helen’s 20 years of Badminton coaching there will be just a £1 charge on all racquet sports at Preston Sports Centre on weekends throughout September.