Meapa was started on a very wet autumn day in 1976 by Eileen and George Disley and Lynn Minshull. Somehow they had to find 25 gymnasts, which they did with great difficulty. At start club had one beam, a scaffold pole for bar, a school vault and a few rectacell mats, but with great dedication the club went to achieve great results.
The Meapa soon became the leading gymnastic club for girls in Kent, as records in team events proved. In 1978 a member of the club, Samantha Penny gained a place in the National Squad and since that time a stream of gymnasts have gained that elevated status and taken part in National and International Competitions.
Eileen and George were regular coaches at national Squad training with their gymnasts. George became a Coach and an Area Judge, for Men and Women. Eileen was an Area Judge and and a High Performance Coach. She also took National Girls to International Competitions.
The Club is a voluntary organisation and became a Registered Charity in 1983. A year later, the Club won The British Women’s Knock-Out Team Championships.
Annually the British Team Championships were held at Butlins, but as our Club had been in the top ten teams for ten years, we were presented with trophies, one for the team and the other for Eileen and George.
The original training venue for the Club was Meopham School, thus the Club being named “The Meapa”. As skill standards improved, more time was required, so the Club moved to Thong Lane Sports Centre then Milton Barracks, which unfortunately was lost to us. It was a great relief to finally find and settle into the school gymnasium at Southfields.
We should thank George and Graham for transporting a beam and safety mats forwards and backwards every week, sometimes with the help of the astonished police.
However, as the Club expanded into new areas and gymnastic skills became more complicated, the school gymnasium was limiting in both time available and space for appropriate equipment.
It was at this time, that grants became available to sports, through the Foundation of the sports and the arts and later the Lottery Sports Fund. This gave the Club the opportunity to apply for and gain financial awards, which along with other grants and fund raising, allowed us to achieve the building of our purpose designed facility.
It took Eileen 3 years to obtain grants and to negotiate leases from Southfields School and KCC.
The success of The Meapa is due to the expertise and loyalty of volunteer coaches and continuity of the training, due to the dedication of these coaches over a period of 10 to 20 years.
The Meapa was selected as a training facility for the 2012 Olympic Games, which proves that our equipment and facility is of international standard.
The Meapa celebrated it’s 40th Anniversary as a club.
Planning permission was granted for the expansion of the current venue and fundraising started.
The Meapa hosted its first ever Gymnastics Festival – where children of all ages levels and coaches came together to showcase their skills in an amazing performance. The event was attended by the Gravesham Mayor and his wife.
The Meapa won the Disley Cup at the South East Regional Championships, this trophy is especially important to us as it is a memorial trophy for Eileen & George Disley who were the founders of The Meapa Gymnastics Club.