setting up a unicycle club

I seem to have found myself in the early stages of setting up a unicycling club in my hometown of Macclesfield (officially the least cultured town in the U.K.). Which is a very cool thing!

It started when I donated a unicycle to one of the kids of my mum’s mates (Lois), who works at a local school(the mum, not the kids. Although the kids attend the school).

A new community sports hall is opening at the school in January which has been funded by the school, the council and the National Lottery. The “sports community development officer”((Vicky)person in charge of filling the sports hall with all sorts of different activities) was talking to Lois and the subject of unicycling came up. Lois and I had been idly bantering about the possibility of setting up a unicycling club, and she mentioned this to Vicky (the sports development person) who is, it turns out, very interested in the prospect of a unicycling club. As part of her remit is to have new and interesting sports go on in the new sports centre. So I’m going in for a meeting with her to see about setting up a club.

I’m really rather excited about all this and am prepared to put in the time and effort to get it up and running…Even so far as to cancel my plans to spend the winter in the alps snowboarding. However I’d like to get a bit of input from people out there who are experienced in starting unicycling clubs…Common mistakes, and ideas for activities etc.

So far my quandaries are…

  1. FUNDING: where from, and how much? I reckon about £400-£500 would be a good amount to get as that would enable me to get between 6 and 10 learner uni’s for them’s as is without to practise on and perhaps some hockey gear too. The sports hall costs £30 p/hour to rent which is damned good. It’s a brand spanking new, massive, indoor sports hall!!! I think I should have a core of between 10-15 people I can rely on to turn up every week whose subs will cover the cost of the hall.

The second question is where to get funding from. Vicky (the community sports lady…remember her???) is luckily also involved in giving grants to projects being run in the sports hall, so should hopefully be able to get some funding through her. If not my other options as far as I can see are:
A. Local businesses, a possibility…There’s a company based in Macclesfield called Astra Zeneca who fund lots of community projects. However I think the main reason they do so is to ease their troubled conscience as they are a big pharmaceutical/chemical company involved in animal testing and other such lovely stuff so I’d prefer not to go to them for funding despite the fact I could probably easily get some from them. With a bit of leg work I could probably find other businesses willing to attach their good name to the funkiest sport in existence…One to ponder.
B. The National Lottery. As I said earlier the sports hall is part funded by the National Lottery, so it could be quite easy to get some pennies from them. (All I should need to do is show them Universe 2, then show them a picture of the millennium dome and ask them which is more worthy of funding…tee hee).
C. Make an appeal through the local media to all and sundry for money. However I think I could incorporate that, if it’s neccessary by then, to the article I’m hoping the local newspaper will run once the club is near to opening.

  1. ADVERTISING: Where and how have people advertised their unicycling clubs? So far I’m thinking…Local paper, schools around the town, the school the club will happen in (perhaps having a movie evening showing various uni vids to get people interested) Manchester (the university in particular), a big sign stuck to my forehead, riding around on my uni wearing a sandwich board…OK, maybe not the last two…Or then again…hmmm.

  2. BORING (but really quite important) STUFF: Things like Insurance, whether helmets or other padding should be mandatory, would ickle kiddies need permission slips or something??? Britain isn’t quite as litigious as America YET…but I don’t want to end up with an angry parent telling a man in a white wig what a nasty person I am!

4.ACTIVITIES: This incorporates teaching people to ride. Recently I’ve found myself teaching quite a few people to ride. However teaching several people at once would be a different ball game altogether. It would be somewhat dependant on the unicycle to person ratio. My first ideas on the subject are that it would probably be better to have 2 people to a uni so that one can ride while the other supports them and they’d take turns. But if anyone has good games etc to play to get groups of people riding that’d be cool…In fact any kind of teaching tips, info, experience etc would be much appreciated.
Then there’s other games like hockey…But my knowledge here is a bit ropey. I’ve not really played any group unicycle games before so any ideas would again, be appreciated.

5.MISCELLANEOUS:SHould I set a lower age limit…if so, how low? Too many little kids would probably end up being a handful and I don’t want to spend loads of time calming down hyper kiddies who are getting in the way of unicycles.
How long should the sessions run? I reckon an hour and a half is a good amount of time. An hour’s too much, and more than that would probably be too expensive to hire the hall.
Should I make it a pure unicycling club, or incorporate other circus skills? Personally I’d like to keep is purely uni as I’d like to promote the sport in itself, and not bundle it into the circus skills category. However I’d probably end up woth more people coming if it were circus skills too…But then I’d have to find money to buy heaps of juggling equipment too. In fact, sod it…Pure unicycling is the way i think. Although I may allow a bit of hacky sack coz it’s just so damned cool.

That’s pretty much all I can think of now. I’ve only today found out about the various developments that seem to be making this uni club into a reality, so any and all input is very much welcome…Ask me hard questions, make me think about it from lots of angles. Please. Then when I go for this meeting I’ll be able to answer any questions she has, and I’ll be able to make a better case for the setting up of a unicycle club in Macclesfield.

Cheers very muchly,

Kit, you owe it to Macclesfield to drag it off the bottom spot of the league table of cultured towns by creating a unicycle club!

You seem to have thought out most of the angles already, and in my experience once you’re at this thinking stage it’s a foregone conclusion.

The funding from the Lottery cash I think needs to show community involvement, which you’ll have in spades. I’m not sure how quickly the cash comes through though. Local sponsorship may be your best bet. For extra unis how about putting a call out to any local unicyclists here? You never know…

Advertising - you seem to have it all covered. Just prioritise according to reach vs cost.

Boring stuff - god I hate this insurance stuff. Minors should have permission slips (an enrolment form?) but that doesn’t mean you can’t be sued for negligence. How about a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check? I’m not sure whether this would be necessary in your situation, but it’s worth checking out. This takes a while and will cost you too. You’ll probably ought to insist on helmets at least; the other armour maybe not, but then after a few cracked shins will they come back…?

Your activities ideas seem sound. Pairing up is a great idea - gives support and helps that whole “mates at a club” vibe. Setting small challenges at a very low level is always a good idea.

Lower age limit probably a good idea to start with (this coming from a Primary School head…). Practise your teaching skills on those with better attention spans first

And definitely total uni - no crcs skills :angry:

Oh, and good luck mate - let us know how you get on.

Thanks for the useful and encouraging reply, it’s good to hear what a headteacher has to say on the matter.
Enrolment forms…that’s the ticket! I remember having to have one for a juggling club I used to go to. only have to get them signed once per term. Easiest way of covering that problem.

I remember looking into the CRB check when I was trying to get a work permit for Andorra (only ended upstaying there for 2 weeks, as opposed to the few months I was planning on spending there because I remembered too late that it’s not a part of the E.U. and had to faff about with visas and get medicals and all sorts of stuff…)Anyway I digress the school will probably sort out that stuff.

What sort of lower age limit do you think there should be? I seem to remember at the juggling club I ,mentioned before the age limit was 9 which worked well I think.

on the circus skills side of things I definitely reckon it’ll be all uni. Although there’s talk of doing an after-school club just for the pupils of the school one night a week as well as a club in the evening. So thought I might incorporate circus skills into the after school thingy.

Anyhoo, I’ll let you know how things go. And cheers again for the advice.


a brief nudge to this thread and a couple of thoughts

at our juggling club, we manage to pay the rent by having refreshments on sale
i don’t know if they’ll allow u to do something like that in their new sports hall, if they do, it’s a nice way to pay the rent

we also make a fair bit of money by performing at fetes, festivals and anywhereelsetheyllpayustobe
some of these gigs take the shape of the circus-school, but some of them are uni-specific
don’t underestimate the club’s potential to make it’s own money by performing
we’re looking at playing ‘demonstration games’ of unihoki at functions as an additional way of earning revenue
as soon as we get paid for playing unihoki, i’ll shout!
handing out flyers on unicycles is another way the club can make it’s own money
working as parking attendants at functions (it sounds dumb but i’ve done it a couple of times)
meet cars at the entrance and get them to follow u to a parking spot
the novelty value of this really adds something to a function
(it’s best done on 24"s or bigger)

look out for community notice boards, online as well
check local organisations’ web sites
quite often a local radio station will have a community-noticeboard of some sort on their site
speaking of local radio
quite often they have ‘swop-shop’ type programmes where people phone in looking for a dog-kennel and want to swop it for an excercise machine
phone in an offer to swop people something for their old unicycles lying in the garage
u’re not really looking for the unicycles, u’re loking for the people who bought them at one stage
if they hear about unihoki (eg) that might be the incentive they need to get back on and get invovled in your club

when the club is ready to go, get a press release out to the local press
they have to fill so many pages a week and something as juicy as a unicycle club is normally just to good to ignore
send your press release far and wide
the guy at BBC 1 can delete it if he doesn’t want it (:stuck_out_tongue: )

keep us posted

Refreshments for funding is a wicked idea! I’d had a poder about public performances as a way of showing benefit to the community, but hadn’t really thought about getting paid for it…[dollar signs in eyes]. I’ve done a bit of flyering on my uni before which was quite a giggle. People are nervous to take them off you at first because they think you’re going to crash into them. How little they know. I really like the idea of parking attendants on unicycles, never heard of/thought about it before.

On the media side of things I’m in quite a good position. One of my mates is a DJ on the local radio station…So that’s covered. And the local paper owe me a favour for calling me a girl in one of their articles(I’ve got long dreadlocks…OK)…And with Macclesfield being the cultural wasteland it is they’ll print just about anything.

A few questions…How long do your juggling club sessions go on for? And how many people were there regularly coming to the club when it first opened? That’s only 2 questions…Ho hum…Nope, can’t think of any more.

Cheers for more useful ideas and stuff to ponder Gild.


we’ve used two approaches to the length of sessions at the juggling club
when i first went there, it started at around 19h30-20h00 ish and would carry on untill the last person left
this would often be after midnight, with the best juggling of the night being done in the last 30minutes
then we changed it a bit and started at 19h30, packed it in at 22h00 and head off to the pub
this was pretty good as a way to keep people invovled
it also meant that there was less standing around talking as ‘we can talk over a beer’ (my personal battle cry at the time)
so we had 2 1/2 hours of pretty intense juggling, then a beer and home by midnight
a couple of months ago we decided to bring some beers to the hall and juggle untill we go home
we’re back on the wrong end of midnight again

the club’s been going for 11 years this year
right at the beginning, it was only about 3 or 4 regular people who kept it going
now we regularly have 15-20 people, drawing from a base of at least 100 people that have been there (in the 4/5 years i’ve been going anyway)

As a mom (who is learning to unicycle), I have a few more suggestions.

Stick with the minimum age limit, but if smaller kids (possibly younger brothers and sisters of club members) are interested, let them come but insist that they are accompanied by a parent. They might be happy just to spectate, but if they want to try at least you’ll have a spare adult to help them out. I know you don’t want to be lumbered with a bunch of screaming kids, but if they are enthusiastic and interested GRAB THEM!
Find out what other activities are going to be offered at the hall. If there is a ballet class they will have barres (sp?), hopefully portable, which usually have adjustable heights. If you can get to use those you’ll have your own ready made handrails for the slightly slower learners or for those feeling the need for more physical support.
Leave the hall tidy and respect the other users of the facility.
Once people can “sort of” ride get them to hold hands and ride across the hall in a line. It is a bit unnerving at first but it’s amazing how much further you can get unicycling with a partner.
See if you can arrange a club discount for unicycle purchases to encourage people to buy their own.
If you have a number of learner unis at your disposal consider renting them out (for people to practice on at home) to raise funds to buy more.


I started the Memphis Unicycle Club knowing NOTHING and learned alot along the way. Our club is strong now and seemingly healthy. I’ll be happy to share any documents that I have that may help. Just send me an e-mail at:


Re: setting up a unicycle club

On Thu, 11 Nov 2004 09:05:32 -0600, “Tmornstar” wrote:

>I’ll be happy to share any documents that I have that may help. Just
>send me an e-mail

Do that! Tommy has an excellent set of ideas and procedures!

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

“Deflating pi does not reduce calories, it just concentrates them. - billham”

And he never sits down. And he never sleeps. And he never stops moving.:wink:

For a UK club its worth looking at a Zurich Munciple Community Choice poliey for insurance. It covers PLI, ELI, club property and money in transit/ house. Also covers volunteer as employees for many situations.
South West Uni meets and the Stockton Unicycle club both use them, I think Denton do to. The price is per year and is reasonable.
When I’m next on-line at the PC next to the filing cabnit I’ll look out the phone number for you.

Next South West Uni Meet- 12th Feb 2005

cheers very much Sarah.
And a big thumbs to everyone who keeps telling me handy stuff!


Zurich Municipal
0845 6023896
Community Insurance Centre
ask to talk to someone about a Community Choice policey

my contact was Christine Docherty.

You will need to fillin a new business proposal form that they will send you. This is a document that describes what your community group does ( or will do) compleate with how often you meeet and what you do at the meetings. There are some exclusions to what they can cover- no BMX or Skateboarding for exmple. So if you think it will be an issue you might need to make some rules very clear from the start of the club ( like no SK8 boards)


e-mail me or PM me to talk about what we paid for this…

just adding my voice to those who suggested not having allowing unnaccompanied children. If I were you I would havbe this rule in place and ENFORCE it- you might have to anyway for the insurance. For a while at our juggling club we had one kid, who showed no interest in jugling at all, who was left with us every week by his parents, who seemed to just view us as babysitters.

on insurance: whoever runs the hall should have insurance, it may be possible to get cover under their scheme.

Well, I’m feeling to start a unicycle club on my own, but not now, i need some more skills.
And i need some good climate, so that we don’t have to practise indoor all the time.

And i need some time to lookeverything up, to get some friend to/who ride unicycle.
And… I’m only 16, i can’t run it all by myself.

It might be possible, but be sure to read the documents care fully. You don’t want to find that you are ONLY covered for things that happen in the hall when you have to claim for stuff stolen or broken on a outdoor trip or for club funds nicked from a car.

That sort of limited cover might be Ok for the start up period, but as soon as you start doing stuff in multiple venues you need to have club cover.
Read everything twice. If in dought ask for advice.