A true elder statesman and local sports administrator Bob Colhoun MBE, celebrated his 90th Birthday recently, surrounded by friends and colleagues, who have known him as simply ‘Bob’ or ‘Mr Badminton’.
Indeed he admits to having no knowledge of the sport until coming to the end of his university studies in August 1950 and his first job at Ferranti’s.
When Bob joined Alpha Badminton Club in Lisburn on his return to the province five years later, the former pupil of RBAI was quickly snapped up as Honorary Secretary and it could not have been a more astute appointment as he was to become one of the most respected of sporting administrators in the country with Bob benefitting from his ‘hands on’ and visionary approach.
With the formation of a Juvenile club harnessing the latest talent, the club was to grow exponentially and he was to combine his early talents as a coach with a willing taxi driver to matches and tournaments the length and breadth of the country in his trusty Volvo!
In the late Sixties, Alpha had been fundraising for some years as they were to combine with Hilden Tennis Club and when total assets reached £8,000, they were to receive grant aid from the Ministry of Education for a new pavilion for Hilden and Badminton courts for Alpha ,with squash also being included. Lisburn Racquets Club was to be born and the three court badminton hall was appropriately named The Colhoun Hall.
Bob was responsible for introducing a Christmas tournament for young players and at one stage it was being played throughout the province with entries reaching over 600 in the 1980s. He was also responsible for an international event which attracted some of the top international players to the Lisburn venue in the pre Open era.
Bob has received many honours including an MBE in 2014 and he was also the recipient of a Meritorious Award from the BWF, which was presented to him in front of a packed Maysfield Leisure Centre during the hosting of a Europe v Asia International match.
Despite being a visionary, Bob is also a character in the true sense of the word, shunning publicity and still receives the greatest satisfaction from seeing the hordes of youngsters visiting the club throughout the week, taking advantage of the now splendid facilities at the National Badminton Centre, in which Bob was very much involved from the start.
Anyone participating in any way in Badminton in Ulster, owe a great sense of thanks to Bob for all his hard work, interest and dedication to the sport. Many international players started out their career as young children playing on a Saturday in the club Bob has built up over the years. They benefited from the personal approach Bob had by means of encouragement and always remembering their names and to this day, he still remembers players from years ago when he meets them!
Congratulations Bob on your 90th Birthday and thanks for all you have done for the game of Badminton!
(Amended from original article by Brian Kelly)