History of Hawks

“Up from the ashes grow the roses of success”


The club was originally started in 1979 in Seaton in Devon by the current directors Mike & Elaine May. It was then known as Hawks Gymnastics Club & was linked to the family business, Hawkeshyde Motel. Uniquely all three of the May children became International gymnasts ~ Stephen, numerous international assignments including representing G.B. at the World Student Games in 1983; Helen, Junior English International & Senior G.B. International; and Olympian James who was British & Commonwealth Games Champion and represented G.B. extensively on the World stage.With an already established reputation for producing gymnastics excellence at club, county, regional, national & international level the May family moved to Bristol in 1987 to concentrate their efforts on gymnastics.
The old Co-op building was purchased & works begun to convert it into a state of the art gymnastics centre. A week away from opening the building was gutted by a devastating fire ~ with the building in ruins; dreams shattered, no jobs, & financially stretched the future looked bleak.
However the love of the sport & the overwhelming support of the local community spurred us all on to try to rebuild. Slowly up from the ashes rose ‘Bristol Hawks Gymnastics’.

The official opening by John Atkinson MBE was in August 1992 & featured Commonwealth Gold medallist our own James May just back from representing G.B. in the finals at the Barcelona Olympic Games.
Since then the club has gone from strength to strength. Mike & Elaine are the brains behind the business success and Elaine’s knowledge as both a top class coach and former International Brevet Judge is invaluable. Helen is the Coaching Director and her extensive technical knowledge & experience on the International stage underpins the competitive programme at the club. Stephen, with his professional knowledge of the financial world, is a former executive director of the club & now acts as a consultant to the club and James is an International Brevet Judge, member of the Men’s Technical committee of the Union of European Gymnastics and the clubs Manager.
The family ‘firm’ was further strengthened in 1997 with the marriage of Head of Men’s Artistic gymnastics, Sean Potter [former English International gymnast and high performance men’s coach] & Head Coach, Helen May. In 1998 Helen became one of the first coaches in the country to achieve the new International Performance Coaching Award.
We are committed to achieving high standards through further development. The awarding of a Community Club Development Grant at the end of 2004 enabled us to upgrade our facility and helped us to achieve ‘Gym Mark’ accreditation [British Gymnastics Quality Kite Mark] in May 2005.
Our coaching team has gone from strength to strength with former GB International gymnasts Carolyn Fyfe & Rhian Pugh joining our team in 2009; Sports Science graduate Rory Weavers joining us full time from September 2009 former GB International gymnast Stephanie May [nee Micklam] joining us from November 2009 and former GB International gymnast Amy Sharp joining us in 2011. In 2017 we installed state of the art cameras allowing full viewing of both of our gyms from our reception area.

Through out the years we have continued to produce champions at all levels & our gymnasts compete from club up to top international level.
In 1992 James May was an Olympic Games finalist at the summer games in Barcelona.
From 1998-2000 Kelvin Williams was GB NDP Champion 3x in a row.
In 2004 Rhian Pugh won the first ever European gold medal for a British woman at the Junior European Championships in Amsterdam. She went on to compete for GB at numerous international events & gained selections for the GB World Championships team in 2005 & for Team Wales at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.
In 2005 & 2007 Carolyn Fyfe competed for GB at the World University Championships. In 2006 she was GB University Champion.
In 2014 Claudia Fragapane won a historic 4 Commonwealth Games Gold Medals and was voted BBC Young Sports Personality of the year. In 2015 she won silver on the floor at the European Championships & a historic team Bronze at the World Championships. In 2016 she became both All Around Senior British & English Champion and competed for Team GB at the Rio Olympic Games. In 2017 she won an individual medal at the World Championships only the second ever British women to achieve this.

Our 30 year involvement in gymnastics in Bristol has come from our passionate belief in the value of our sport as a force for good. Whether as a path to excellence or as a fun leisure activity gymnastics has a lot to offer.
For the future we aim to increase participation and expand our team.
We would like to continue to be officially recognised as a high level quality club providing unique opportunities for local children to reach their full potential in the sport of gymnastics and to foster a lifelong healthy involvement in sport.


11 Roman Rd, Bristol, Avon BS5 6DH