For those of you who play the sport of Badminton or have been involved in Badminton from the late 70’s to the present in London and further afield would have probably heard of the name Henry T. Gaspard or Black Arrows, the two go hand-in-hand.
Henry has been involved in the sport of Badminton as a player since 1974, when he first started playing the sport at the age of 14 at the Leyton Youth Centre, in Waltham Forest. During his playing career he represented the London Federation of Youth Clubs, London, and Essex County as a junior player, and Bedfordshire and Essex county as a senior and veteran’s player.
During this period Henry has won numerous domestic and overseas tournaments, which saw him, travel the width and breathe of the UK, as well as overseas to Belgium, France, Croatia, Budapest, and the USA to compete.
Henry is probably better known as founder and chairman of Black Arrows Badminton Club, a club which he founded in 1984, whose exploits and victories were regularly reported in a number of local newspapers in East and North London throughout the 80’s & 90’s, where Black Arrows was hailed as one of the most dominant clubs in London, winning numerous, league cups, as well as domestic team tournaments in the “UK & Ireland Corporate Games”, where Black Arrows still hold the record of the most consecutive Badminton titles. In the “World Corporate Games”, similar team success was also achieved, in Seville, Croatia and Budapest.
For the past 15 years the Club’s focus changed from senior Badminton development to Junior Badminton development in order to produce the players of the future. During that time the Clubs main session was and still is at Clissold Leisure Centre, Stoke Newington on Sundays 11am to 1pm offering coaching and playing opportunities for young people aged 8-18 years.
During those years Henry and the Black Arrows committee have worked hard at developing partnerships with a number of Schools, Colleges, Universities, Clubs, Local Authorities, and other organisations such as Badminton England, Greenwich Leisure Limited, University of East London, Arsenal Football Club, Active Newham and other in the development of Junior Badminton.
In order to manage the delivery of this expanding programme, Black Arrows have invested in encouraging volunteers to become qualified Level 1 coaches, which the Club has 14, and then Level 2 coaches. The Club now has 14 qualified Level 2 coaches who deliver on average 30 coached sessions per week, which includes sessions to primary and secondary schools, Colleges, Universities, Clubs, a disability session as well as a 50+ session. In an average week around 250 participants are taking part in Black Arrows delivered sessions.
Black Arrows works with the sports Governing Body, Badminton England in the delivery of a number of its key participation programmes such as “”Essentials” “Smash Up” and “No Strings” Badminton which seeks to increase junior adult participation in the sport.
The Club is also part of the Badminton England “Community Badminton Networks” (CBN), in the London Borough of Newham and Islington. The CBN consists of a number of partners from Education, Community, Sports, Leisure and others who are involved in the development of Badminton opportunities across their borough. Black Arrows plays an active delivery role in both boroughs.
In 2009 in partnership with Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), Black Arrows set up the GLL Badminton Academy at East Ham Leisure Centre in Newham, which provides junior coaching on Saturdays 10am to 12 noon, and senior badminton club coaching on Friday’s 7-9pm. Over the years these sessions have introduced hundreds of new participants to badminton and still continue to do so. The centre is now run by Active Newham so the sessions have now been called the Black Arrows Badminton Academy.
As part of the Premier League 4 Sport Programme in partnership with Arsenal Football Club, Black Arrows have and continue to deliver a number of after school Badminton sessions to a number of senior schools in Islington and Camden. This delivery has helped Arsenal gain National recognition for the delivery of its PL4S programme. In 2012 Arsenal Boys were crowned National PL4S Badminton Champions at Milton Keynes, by winning the boys tournament. In May 2013 the Boys successfully defended their title to be crowned 2013 National Champions, with the girls loosing the finals to Portsmouth 3-2, to deny Arsenal the double.
In 2012 Black Arrows were awarded “Premier Club” Status from Badminton England, as a club which has met all the necessary requirements for this award. The Club was also awarded the “Active Westminster Club Mark” by Westminster council in June 2013 for the junior development work they currently do in the borough.
Henry has been credited for the clubs long history of success since 1984 and its continued delivery of Badminton opportunities for the community as a whole, and in making Black Arrows a name which is recognised throughout the Badminton community in London, Nationally and further afield, introducing thousands of new participants to the sport of Badminton.
For his volunteering services to Badminton, Henry was awarded the 30 Years Gold Award by the London Federation of Sport and Recreation, at their presentation ceremony at The Civil Service Club on the 4th June 2013, for 36 years volunteering to his beloved sport of Badminton.