Sporting stars and valued volunteers

Speaker's Corner
Speaker's Corner

A regular column by Hemel Hempstead’s MP

We are approaching the end of the season for the main winter sports, and what an exciting season it has been for Hemel Hempstead’s sports fans. Hemel is fast becoming a great sporting town.

In rugby league, Hemel Stags are having a great first season in the professional game. I was at their recent match against Oldham and although Stags didn’t win that one, it is great to see the local team going from strength to strength.

In basketball, Hemel Storm have completed their first season in the English Basketball League Division 1. They’ve done a fantastic job and without any players shipped in from the US. It really is a great family day out – my wife, Angie, has become a huge fan! They will be back in action in September so I urge people to go along and watch. They have great plans to establish a permanent base and I wish them the very best with that.

Both football’s Tudors and rugby union’s Camelot suffered heartache just losing out on promotion. For Tudors it was in a penalty shoot-out after their last match ended 2-2 after extra time, for Camelot it was an extra time penalty that killed off their dreams of London One league next season.

We are very lucky to have two professional sports clubs locally and both they and the large number of voluntary clubs do a tremendous amount of work in the community, and with young people in particular.

Whenever I visit a club I am always overwhelmed by the dedication of the coaches and organisers – we, quite simply, cannot value them highly enough.

Of course, there are so many sports clubs locally I cannot possibly mention them all. Some have invited me to visit in the past and I have enjoyed trying out sports I’ve never tried before (think netball!).

A year ago we were building up to the Olympics and local Olympic hero Matt Whitlock has done it again becoming a European Champion – in fact he is Britain’s first ever gold medal winner on the floor at the European Championships.

It is a fantastic achievement and he is a great inspiration to local young people.

I am delighted that his fellow Olympic gymnast Louis Smith came to Hemel to encourage young people recently.

Looking forward, we have the cricket season just starting and I wish all local teams the best of luck. I hope to be able to watch a match or two during the summer.

On a final footnote, the Snow Centre have asked me to help promote their Ski Cross and Boarder Cross Day on Monday, May 27.

GB Olympian ski crosser Ed Drake will be there so if you’re keen on skiing why not take their Snow Cross Open Challenge? Visit their website for details.

Mike Penning is the Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead. Contact his office on 01442 450444 or via