The 30th Anniversary Dinner

When Joe Quinn in his usual enthusiastic manner suggested that EDAC should celebrate 30 years in existence, the committee turned to the current Social Secretary and the party girl that is Janine Murray swung into action. She enlisted the help of Alison Carroll and the planning began. The date was set for 11th November and the venue of the Burrendale Hotel, Newcastle was confirmed by popular demand. Fast forward 8 months and a fantastic night of entertainment unfolded. Almost 80 guests arrived in full finery to a room

decorated with red and yellow balloons, a commemorative cake and photo boards with pictures of the early days. A slide show produced by Tom McClean ran throughout the

evening evoking memories of good times and bad hairstyles. After a welcome drink and official photos, chairman Simon McGrattan invited the guests to take their seats. The meal was delivered in timely fashion – empty plates all round. Simon was then in control of the mic and he spoke on behalf of the Club starting back in 1987 when the East Down AC rose from the ashes of the previous Leisureside AC. The driving force behind the new East Down AC was Jimmy Murray and he put his energies into recruiting juniors and coaching them to high standards with the emphasis on track competition. It was great that some of the EDAC “oldies” had come to the dinner albeit that they actually weren’t actually that old as they had been quite young at the time. They were able to fill in a lot of missing names thus providing useful additions to the archives. Simon gave a round up of the intervening period when Joe Quinn stepped in after Jimmy’s untimely death in 1998. He mentioned Frank Cunningham and other stalwarts who are still the backbone of the club. Their efforts to drive the Club forward are unparalleled. Jimmy’s 10 is one of the Club’s most public achievements and with a record 1000 entrants in 2017 shows no signs of waning in popularity. Our Clubrooms acquired in 2014 and formally opened in March 2015 gave the members  a base and an identity. The Club today has had a resurgence of junior intake and a healthy senior squad so the future is bright. Having done his bit, Simon invited Pam Brown, President of ANI to say a few words and she warmly thanked the Club for the invitation and also commended EDAC’s status within the running world of NI, Ireland and beyond. She was impressed by club social media presence,  attendance at races and the efforts put in to managing a club and its members. As the Annual Awards were also part of the evening Pam was put to further use as she handed out the perpetual shields to the recipients. Simon read a roll call of nominees, as provided by the members, for each category with an impressive list of achievements for each name. The Male Athlete of the year was awarded to Dee Murray in recognition of his pursuit and achievement of a sub 3 hour marathon and his recurrent appearance on podiums in 10k events all round the country. He is also known for his encouragement of other athletes. Niamh Kellett (Female Athlete of the year) having scaled heights literally in the 7 7s and the Mourne Skyline Races was also congratulated on her PB in half and full marathon (3.15) and her sub 40min 10k. The Most Improved Male Athlete went to Gareth Kelly for lowering his times significantly in both half and full marathon. Joanne Foster with her podium places in 4 out of the 7 half marathons that she tackled and her efforts in the XC races was the choice for the Most Improved Female Athlete. Club Person of the Year went to Alison Carroll, a richly deserved award in recognition of her work in all aspects of Club life. There were a few other less formal but still important awards. Mags Mathieson and Michael Kelly have been long time friends and supporters of the Club giving hours of their time to marshal and administer multiple races so it was only right that they were given gifts by the Club. There is a rumour that the gift for Mags had a Prosecco theme – a lucky guess perhaps? There were also tokens for some milestone performances. Linda Cunningham – fast acquiring “legend” status as she has passed the 80th marathon tally and shows no signs of stopping and Raymond Milligan who has amassed 50 marathons with some sterling performances were both called up. Sean Sealey was mentioned in dispatches for his support both physical and mental for other athletes on more than one occasion. Hopefully his Superhero cape will come in handy! Janine was also presented with a gift for her superb organisational skills. At this point Simon drew the formalities to a close – the dance floor was opened and was never empty for the rest of the night. The music provided by Alan McKelvey hit the spot and there were plenty of people reliving their youth. It is tempting to say that what happened at the Dinner stays at the Dinner, but rumour has it that some incriminating evidence can be found. Suffice to say if the Ladies were as enthusiastic about their running as their dancing, EDAC would be lifting trophies all round the province!! It was a joy to see so many folk with a smile on their faces and enjoying the evening and it was a revelation to see how good everyone looked in their glad rags. For some it was a chance to catch up with people who are not around the Club as often as previously and apparently there were a few “come backs” mentioned! The sport of running may well be about improving physical standards and striving to be the best but it is on occasions such as this that the importance of camaraderie in a busy world can be appreciated. It is hoped that the Club will continue to thrive in the future and equally that it will not be another 30 years before such an event is repeated.

Please view Photos of the evening at the link below – link to the Awards photos – link to Dinner Guests