Badminton coach ‘amazed’ after appearing on King’s New Year’s Honours List 2023

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Will Mellersh only got back involved in the sport by accident 11 years ago

A badminton coach who has helped a generation of young players and raised the profile of the sport in and around Bristol says he is ‘amazed’ after being included in the King’s New Year Honours list 2023.

Will Mellersh, aged 52, heen recognised with a Order of the British Empire medal for his services to badminton in Bristol, including Chew Valley Badminton Club where he is head coach.

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The father-of-two said he couldn’t believe it when he received the email on the award medal from the Cabinet Office. “It is absolutely superb,” he said. “I’d like to thank all those people who helped me into the sport and made this possible.”

Mr Mellersh’s entry into the sport was perhaps inevitable. His parents, Richard and Sally, ran the local club called Chew Magna Badminton Club. And his first memories of the sport are watching his parents take part in league games in the local village hall.

At Chew Magna Primary School he joined the junior section of his parents’ club, now called Chew Valley Badminton Club. There, under the eyes of coach Gwen Kirton, he became a top player, representing England in an under 18 European Championship.

Will Mellersh with his daughters Lucy and AmyWill Mellersh with his daughters Lucy and Amy
Will Mellersh with his daughters Lucy and Amy | Bristol World

But at the age of 18 he stopped playing due to a knee injury and instead took up more rugby and cricket. He played for Chew Valley Old Boys rugby club and Chew Magna Cricket Club.

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It wasn’t until the age of 41 - more than two decades on - when Mr Millerish accidently got back involved in the sport. Living in Bristol, an old school friend asked for help on coaching his son in Badminton. Mr Mellersh arrivedat Chew Valley School, where he met couple Gene and Lynne who were running the junior section of Chew Valley Badminton Club.

One thing led to another and within months he was running hour-long coaching sessions for the club. Roll on a decade, and now the club runs a two-hour session on a Tuesday and a five-hour session on a Saturday. It had 16 junior members, today it has 80.

But what Mr Mellersh is most proud about is the number of young players who have gained training qualifications through their Duke of Edinburgh awards. “The hope is that they can now help even more people get into the sport,” he said.

Will with his sister Liz Whitmarsh who helped run Chew Valley Juniors for a number of yearsWill with his sister Liz Whitmarsh who helped run Chew Valley Juniors for a number of years
Will with his sister Liz Whitmarsh who helped run Chew Valley Juniors for a number of years | Bristol World

Mr Mellersh also ‘looks after’ Avon Badminton Association, which oversees seven teams from the Bristol region. All this alongside his full-time job as an area manager for a drinks servicing company.“

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I don’t know who put me forward,” he said. “But I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough - it has honestly been so amazing. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the email.

“Alot of people helped me when I started who I probably didn’t thank at the time - this is also for them.”

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