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Cromer tennis club celebrate open day with Churchill lookalike visit

PUBLISHED: 13:22 28 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:22 28 April 2019

Winston Churchill impersonator Derek Herbert, left, with tennis club chairman Kelvin van Hasselt. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

Winston Churchill impersonator Derek Herbert, left, with tennis club chairman Kelvin van Hasselt. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

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A former British prime minister has swapped serving his country for serving on the tennis courts at a Norfolk sports club's open day.

Players at Cromer tennis club have celebrated opening the grass courts for the summer with a visit from a Winston Churchill lookalike. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesPlayers at Cromer tennis club have celebrated opening the grass courts for the summer with a visit from a Winston Churchill lookalike. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Association (CLTSA) celebrated the opening of their grass courts for the summer with a visit from a Winston Churchill lookalike.

The Conservative politician visited Cromer's tennis club with his wife Clementine Churchill in 1923, when she played and won in the open mixed doubles.

But while Churchill's first visit to the seaside town as a child back in 1888 prompted him to say “I am not enjoying myself very much”, there was no sign of those famous words - now inscribed on the town's promenade - at the club's event on Saturday, April 27.

Club chairman Kelvin van Hasselt said the lookalike, impersonator Derek Herbert, was the perfect way to celebrate the event, which saw 16 new players sign up to the club, which has recently undergone a change in leadership.

Winston Churchill impersonator Derek Herbert, left, with tennis club chairman Kelvin van Hasselt. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesWinston Churchill impersonator Derek Herbert, left, with tennis club chairman Kelvin van Hasselt. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

Mr van Hasselt, 66, said: “It's all gone exceptionally well.

“We signed up a lot of new members and despite the weather we got a lot of people playing.

READ MORE: Cromer tennis club member slams 'toffs of north Norfolk' over £3.3m sports hub plans

Players at Cromer tennis club, pictured in the spot where the former prime minister famously sat, have celebrated opening the grass courts for the summer with a visit from a Winston Churchill lookalike. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesPlayers at Cromer tennis club, pictured in the spot where the former prime minister famously sat, have celebrated opening the grass courts for the summer with a visit from a Winston Churchill lookalike. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

“The price has changed for 18 to 30-year-olds - that age group was really popular because we had a special offer of £80 for the year.”

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Lookalike Mr Herbert said: “I'm very honoured to walk in the footsteps of Churchill, and to be here where the great man sat and supported his wife.

Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Association (CLTSA) celebrated the opening of their grass courts for the summer with a visit from a Winston Churchill lookalike. Photo: CLTSACromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Association (CLTSA) celebrated the opening of their grass courts for the summer with a visit from a Winston Churchill lookalike. Photo: CLTSA

“It's part of our history and we have to have history.

“Once to start meddling with your past, you have no future.”

Tanja Wright, business links and social fundraiser, added: “Despite the fact there's been no sunshine, we had great attendance and lots of people signing up.

“We hope to continue attracting local people as new members.

Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Association (CLTSA) celebrated the opening of their grass courts for the summer with a visit from a Winston Churchill lookalike. Photo: CLTSACromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Association (CLTSA) celebrated the opening of their grass courts for the summer with a visit from a Winston Churchill lookalike. Photo: CLTSA

“My main role is to embrace local businesses and people and show them the wonderful facilities we have here.”

She added that the open day had seen at least 200 people attend throughout the day.

And former chairman and lifetime member Tony Spurgeon, a former Norfolk tennis champion, said: “I first played here in 1955 when I was 12.

“I'm now 75 and I've been involved with the club ever since.

“I think there needed to be a change and hopefully with a new leader and committee the club will continue to be successful.”

And he added that Churchill's visit felt “appropriate”.

READ MORE: Tennis club chairman ousted in no confidence vote over sports hub row

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