“He elevated the level of the sport but, more than that, he forged friendships and memories.”
That is just one of the tributes to the late Stan Buckley, who sadly passed away last month.
A renowned coach and educator, Stan was synonymous with gymnastics in North Wales and in particular Buckley Girls Gymnastics Club.
He arrived at the club in 1979 and in the four decades that followed helped to train countless gymnasts and coaches, only stepping down as coaching director last year.
During that time, the club also boasted a British junior champion, numerous Welsh Ladies’ champions, as well as having gymnasts in the Welsh and British squads with club members also representing Wales at the Commonwealth Games.
Stan was also always keen to forge new links and friendships and took club members to experience different countries including Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, France, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland and Scotland.
One of those former Buckley gymnasts is current Welsh Gymnastics education and technical director, Dr Lisa Gannon (Barton).
Lisa was coached by Stan for more than a decade from around the age of 10, going on to represent Wales and Great Britain while she also competed at the World Student Games.
“He elevated the level of the sport but, more than that, he forged friendships and memories,” said Lisa.
“That was certainly the case for me – and I know for a lot of the gymnasts who were at the club.
"He also elevated the standard of the club and would always try to find different ways for us to achieve new skills. He was an innovator in that respect.
“One of his passions was people development and he was very interested in developing the coaches he came into contact with. He would want to see them progress and he had a great way of putting complex and technical concepts into layman’s terms.
“And, personally to me, I lost my dad when I was 12, so his family acted as almost a second family to me and was a support at a very difficult time.
“Even when I moved to university in Leeds, he was a stable force and someone I could go to for advice and support.
“The discipline and the resilience I got from Stan at Buckley has stayed with me and helped me in my professional and personal life."
Meanwhile Welsh Gymnastics North Wales Development Officer Ceri Sass, who is also club board director at Buckley Girls, as well as being a former club gymnast and head coach there, paid her own tribute on the club website.
“Mr Buckley’s passion for gymnastics and Buckley Girls Gymnastics Club was second to none,” she said.
“People always asked if the club was named after him – it easily could have been.
“He was the driving force behind the club for more than 40 years.
“Mr B – we will endeavour to keep your passion burning in the gym and we will strive to make you proud.
“My coach, my mentor and my friend for over 30 years – thank you.”
And Holly Broad, who is now Performance Pathway Manager for Welsh Gymnastics, is another former gymnast who was coached by Stan.
She said: “Mr Buckley was a truly wonderful person, one of a kind.
“He instilled his incredible passion for gymnastics in me and so many others throughout his lifetime.
“He is one of the main reasons I fell in love with the sport and why I am working in gymnastics today.
“Mr Buckley gave me opportunities that I will be forever grateful for and will always look back on with fondness.”
Stan’s funeral service took place on Tuesday 7th September at Flintshire Memorial Park and Crematorium.