I started practising judo at Canterbury Judo Club in a small hall in Canterbury West Road , close to the railway station. It was some time in 1955. In 1957 , Henri Ditiker found us , he was studying english at the Ecole International, Downs Park, Herne Bay. I could not believe my luck , he was a 2nd Dan and at that time meeting a dan grade was unheard of in our area. I was even mre pleased when he agreed to be my mentor.
At that time i worked at Chislet Colliery and was a member of the Old Scholars at Greenhill School ( now Herne Bay High School -RM ) , it was a social club. Henri asked if we could start a judo section there. (in 1958 - RM) We only had old coconut matting to practice on, but judo survived and grew. We practised at many of the local clubs , Henri was always appreciated where ever he taught.
In 1959 , henri took Alan Hook, Frank Burton and myself to a summer school in Switzerland , it was his Sensei's 25th year of teaching judo , he was 7th Dan Korean Embassy Diplomat Hano Rhi.We all graded at the end of the course and Henri gained his 3rd Dan. Henri decided to return to Switzerland to live and I promised him that I would keep a club going in Herne Bay.
When I decided to get married , Jean said she would not be happy with me being a collier. I had had a few nrear misses , so I left knowing that i would be called up for National Service , so no club. ( 1960 )
I was posted to Northern Ireland and managed to get a few practces in at local clubs in Belfast. The standard of their judo was very high , this was becasuse the highest grade was a 2nd dan. He could only grade students to 1st Dan , which meant to grade higher yhey would have to cross to mainland and noone bothered for years .
On leave I managed to keep in touch with local judo and was pleased that Mick Cook & Ray Cavanagh , members of the Old scholars , had started a club in Margate. ( formed around 1961)
I finished my national Service and saw that an evening class for judo was advertised at greenhill school , I went to enroll only to be told that they could not find an instructor , and thats how i got the job ! ( 1962)
As an evening class, it was run very much as Henri had taught me . Clive Morgan took over when I went into small buisness.(1964) It was after this that we approached M. George Field about having space to form a club at St. Mary's College . (1968)
I am please to see the club has continued . I have enclosed newspaper cuttings that will give you more information.
People I owe a debt to for my judo : Henri Ditiker , John Gowland , Mick Leigh , Mick Davis , the best coaching course run at the club by Peter McNamara .
A debt of thanks is also outstanding to Mr. John Fitt , who loaned the club £1000 when we were building . "The only private money given to the club", to be paid back when and if we could. John came to the club when we had finished , I explained that it might be some time before we could pay any of the loan back. He looked around the club and said that he did not think we would manage to finish such a project . He also said , he did not expect to get the money back and it was a gift to judo. John had been a judoka years before.
If at some future date you have a comp or event , I think it would be nice to invite him to the club.