Dr Barry McLaughlin has been involved in coaching women’s artistic gymnastics since the 1970’s. In 2001 he decided to take up gymnastics coaching as a full time occupation, leaving his expertise in the field of medicine after 22 years working as a clinical scientist and lecturer between Hope Hospital and University of Manchester. Barry opened Vernon Park Gymnastics Centre in February 2002. After many hours of hard work, converting the 19th Century mill to a working gymnasium the centre was completed fitted out and ready for training after just four weeks. The initial training venue consisted of a small gymnasium without a floor full floor area, not many gymnasts and a few dedicated coaches. Eventually the centre began to prosper, general classes, birthday parties, and an increase in performance gymnastics. Vernon Parks initial year saw massive success in the Northwest region at all levels with many gymnasts making National Finals at Age Groups and Grades. The Senior British Team entry for the first time resulted in a team placing of 12th in Great Britain, not a bad start for a club only open a few months.
2003 saw a further development of the training hall with the addition of more floor space. An opportunity to expand the facility came about by chance and without a second thought Barry dived in and expanded, demolishing walls and doubling the size of the gym overnight! Success came once again in the Northwest; numbers increased in classes, more coaches joined the club and the performance gymnasts increased in their stature. Successful competitions in the English Championships, Qualification for apparatus finals at the British Championships and a podium place for Rebecca Price as runner up in the British Championships beam final. Nina Dearman continued her amazing success of 2002 with apparatus finals and European trials at Lilleshall National Centre and after a massive improvement in the British Teams to finish with a ranking of 9th the club was continuing from strength to strength. The club eventually became a registered charity with the GB Charity Commission and increased its development in the community by gaining awards for all grants from Sport England and the Stockport Sports Council.
Success in the British Championships in 2003 saw Neenagh Campbell return to a place on the Great Britain National Espoire Squad, soon to be joined by Rebecca Price. Towards the end of 2003 the facility had expanded with a full floor area, new bar stations, increased rebound facilities and overhead spotting rigs.
2004 started with a massive boost at regional floor & vault and grades championships with many gymnasts taking titles and medals. Hannah Whelan achieved a position on the Great Britain World Class Start National Squad and the club is preparing for another busy year. Rebecca Price and Neenagh Campbell continue to train with the National Junior Squad with Nina Dearman attaining High Performance Status working with top National & International gymnasts weekly at the High Performance Centre in Liverpool. The 2004 British Team Championships saw the Senior Team maintain its seeded ranking in the countries top 12, finishing 11th overall in GB, dogged by major injuries to Neenagh Campbell who could not compete and Nina Dearman. The Bill Slater team improved its 2003 rankings and this year the club had five representatives at the British Championships. Nina Dearman competing in her first year at Senior level made the Senior British Vault final and on the day of the final finished an excellent 4th overall in GB. The 2004 Alpha Factor Championships and the 2nd Junior Commonwealth trial for England saw three gymnasts from the club competing at this level. With a superb floor and bar routine, Nina Dearman stormed to victory to win the UK 2004 Alpha Factor Championships in Wiltshire with Hannah Whelan on the podium in bronze medal position in the Espoire section. One of the highlights of the year saw, Nina Dearman crowned 2004 Senior English Champion, and Hannah Whelan being selected for the 2005 Espoire National Squad. The club has shown its status in team events with the senior team taking the Manx Telecom Invitational team title for the second time as a prelude to the 2006 British Team Championships. International success has arrived in the past two years with gymnasts representing England at Senior level and producing medal success at 2007 in the Senior British Championships.
2008 saw Nina Dearman regain the Senior English title, with a superb all around performance taking the Beth Tweddle bars trophy along with the overall title and her personal coach, Barry McLaughlin receiving the Amanda Kirby bars trophy. 2008 also saw the take off from England Internationals with both Nina and Barry being selected to travel to Russia to compete in an event in Vladimir, Russia. 2009, saw Barry and Nina selected to represent England in the Leverkusen cup in Germany, with Nina taking the overall Vault title. In 2009 Nina Dearman , along with Hannah Whelan won the Stockport Sports Personality of the year award. The highlight of 2009 bwas the selection of Nina to the GB team to the World Student Games alongside Beth Tweddle in Serbia, where the team performed well with Nina being the top GB gymnast to make the top 24 all round.
2010, saw numerous medal success at County and Regional level, with Nina and Barry once again representing England in the Rushmoor Rosebowl with Gold medals galore.
2011 saw Barry selected again to take the England Senior Team to Leverkusen in Germany, with a team medal, bronze , the first for England in this major International. This year saw the retirement of Nina Dearman, becoming one of the clubs coaches, making her coaching debut at the British Teams Championships in Guildford.
2012 saw the domination of the floor and vault squad in the club, formed in 2011 and now producing success at county and regional level. Barry McLaughlin was officially appointed as National Coach for England at the start of 2012. Barry took the England team again to Leverkusen, this year becoming Team Champions! Two ex Vernon Park gymnasts represent GB at the London Olympics, Hannah Whelan and Rebecca Tunney.
2013 Barry continues hid role as England Coach and also takes on the work as Announcer at British Gymnastics Events. The Floor and Vault squad continue to dominate in the region, whilst the last two Christmas Partys and Presentation evenings have been attended as guests of honour two ex Vernon Park Gymnastics and Olympians for GB, Hannah Whelan and Rebecca Tunney. The 4 piece gymnasts have again produced results in regional and county championships. 2013 also saw a large influx of new equipment to the centre, Springboards, New Bars, and several new beams.
In 2014, The gym expanded even more to now have 2 pits and a sunken trampoline. The club has continued up to present day to produce County ,Regional and National Champions under the direction of a dedicated coaching team.
The gymnastics centre is now firmly established as the Premier gymnastics centre covering the whole of Stockport and its surrounding districts and now offers a variety of gymnastic related activities, from general classes for beginners (4+) seven times a week, novice and intermediate training groups, the use of the facility for private birthday parties and high performance training leading to National and International gymnastics. The club serves all aspects of gymnastics in the community of Stockport and holds the British Gymnastics – Gym Mark Award.