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24 August, 2023

Blackmore Vale Over 50s Badminton Club have risen from humble roots to become a shining example of the value of community badminton.

Founded by Peter Duke just over two-and-a-half years ago, the Dorset-based club now has a thriving membership and is one of the most popular clubs in the country in terms of its age demographic and membership.

Badminton England would like to highlight the success of Blackmore Vale to demonstrate the strength of community badminton and to further showcase how it is possible for players across all ages to make an impact and encourage more people in their local communities to pick up a racket.


Club chair Peter moved to the area from Wiltshire, where he had previously been a member of Pewsey Over 50s Badminton Club, two years ago.

With no such club in Blackmore Vale at the time, Duke decided to form a new club in the area, aiming to attract a similar level of interest to the club that he used to play at.

Postings were made in January 2021 to Facebook groups in Shaftesbury, Gillingham, Marnhull and Sturminster Newton.

The proposition included that the club would play in the morning – when energy levels in this age group tend to be at their highest – and that only social badminton would be offered.

Interest and Development

Interest was sufficient to start up the club in February 2021 and a grant was given by Riversmeet Partnership which kick started the club by paying for the first Badminton England Registration as well as four racquets.

The first session saw 13 players turn up and by April 2021, the regular number of players had increased to 18 with interest spreading mainly by word of mouth.

By autumn 2021, membership had grown to 30 registered players, at which point membership was closed and a wait list introduced.

Eventually, a Tuesday session was introduced to ensure that all those that were interested in playing had the opportunity to do so.


Despite running for less than three years, Blackmore Vale is now the largest Over 50s badminton club in the country, with 40 members – a membership number that also makes them one of the largest affiliated clubs in Dorset.

The ages of members of the club range from 53-79, with a split of 55-45 between male and female members.

The majority of members have in fact returned to the sport having previously stopped playing at either a competitive or social level, with some returning after a gap of three decades.

All matches at the club are from a purely social perspective, with all sessions non-competitive and designed to boost the mental and physical wellbeing of the participants.


Club chair Peter Duke said: “The growth in numbers of the club has way passed all my expectations. Everybody seems to enjoy playing and chatting to others whilst off court.”

Regular participant Ian Durrant added: “This is a really fun club where you can hit a feathered shuttle again with no pressure – just social enjoyment.”

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