|Wiltshire Badminton has lost one of its greatest supporters. Graham Belbin, has, for over 30 years, been a high profile fixture on the Salisbury District and in Wiltshire County Badminton scene.
He has been playing and coaching at Stonehenge Badminton club since the late seventies along with spending, untold numbers of Sundays, coaching junior players from all over Wiltshire at Junior County Training sessions. His dedication to the county saw him manage multiple age youth teams at matches, home and away, often taking players to matches or driving a mini bus down to play Cornwall. He would also select, administer and chaperone U17 players for the ICC in Nottingham - the culmination of many young players time in the Junior teams. Even when, in later years, he finished direct coaching, he would be organising and administering sessions and support the lead coach all in a totally voluntary capacity.
Alongside playing/coaching and managing his club during the week and on Saturdays, he was also Secretary and Treasurer of Salisbury & District Badminton Association and ran Junior tournaments for players in the area. He would also be found running his District Juniors in Inter-District competitions over the years and would often organise the county junior restricted competitions twice a year.
He was a mentor to many coaches, volunteers and parents who sort his advice and assistance, and could always be relied on to be on the end of a phone finding the, inevitable, last minute player replacement for a county match on a Saturday evening!
Coaching and enthusing young players in the sport was his calling, giving them the opportunity; the grounding and the values that sporting association offers. His quiet demeanor very much belied his extensive knowledge of the sport, whilst on committees he'd offer his advice and commentary with authority that reflected his experience.
In 2017 he was awarded ‘The English Badminton Award’ by the sports governing body, Badminton England, in recognition of his services to the sport.
His brave fight against his illness, that was to final beat him, he would, stoically, keep us informed of his continuing battle right up until his final weeks.
All three of Wiltshire districts owe a debt of gratitude from all the players who have benefitted from his time, guidance and tutelage. Legions of juniors, the vast majority very much senior players now, along with those he has inspired to follow in his footsteps, are his lasting legacy to badminton witnessed in the many clubs and those that represent their county past and present. Such was the measure of the man.