Chippenham Sports Club’s clubhouse manager is retiring at the end of the month after 11 years in the role.

Andy Thatcher was headhunted by the then chairman Tim Waycott to raise money for a new building for the clubhouse, which opened in April 2004.

Under Mr Thatcher’s watch the club has become home to more sports than ever before, including cricket, hockey, tennis, netball, badminton and running. He runs more than 40 skittles teams, including 10 saved from the Westinghouse social club when it shut down.

As well as managing the sports club facilities, Mr Thatcher does all the cooking and works behind the bar.

He has worked 37 years in the licensing trade, including at Kington St Michael working mens club, and opened Chippenham Rugby Club after it relocated in 1992.

Mr Thatcher, 54, of Lowden, said: “I can’t believe it’s been nearly 11 years at the club.

“After more than 37 years in the trade it is not without some mixed feelings and sadness, but also some excitement as I am leaving to start a new venture.”

This week he launched an online community radio station, Chippenham FM. He said he wants to stay active in the community and has most enjoyed the social aspect of his job.

He said: “The best thing has been all the different people. I’d miss that if I just went. It is like one huge family. The club has 1,500 members and there’s not many that I don’t know by sight. I’ve seen a lot of the kids grow up from tots.”

He has given work experience to several children from all three secondary schools in the town and intends to continue this with the radio project.

His new venture went live on Tuesday afternoon and can be listened to from 6am to 1am at www.chippenham One of its first events is a sporting dinner tomorrow at the club on Hardenhuish Park, Bristol Road.

Former Bath rugby player David Trick, known as Tricky, will be the after dinner speaker.

Tickets cost £25 and the event will raise money for the Bath Rugby Foundation’s Healthy Lifestyle Prog-ramme for children. To book a table, call 07950 842365.

His daughter Elizabeth Thatcher has organised a leaving party for Andy and his wife Cathy at the club this Saturday from 7.30pm.

All members, past members and friends are welcome.