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All our coaches are in full time work or education, and are completely voluntary. They all give up their free time to teach their teams, for the love of the sport.

Continue reading below to get to know each of them a little more. 

2021-2022 Coaching Staff

Lianne Blackwood, Helen Best, Carley Johnson, Jordan Burdon, Hannah Roberts, Abbie Wickens, Ria Jones, Leah Greenwood, Ellie Wickens, Demi Woodford, Gaby Hogg and Faith Ridout.  



Co-Founders of the Sussex Tornados, Lianne Blackwood and Helen Best started the team in 1998 when they were both in their final year of high school. With just 8 members, and the support of their parents, Sussex Tornados started training in a local youth club hall preparing for the first competition in Germany in 1999. Lianne and Helen have both completed USASF Level 5 qualifications and Lianne also spent many years as an NCSSE instructor with the British Cheerleading Association.

During their competitive careers, both competed as members of the national team, Team UK at the World Championships in Tokyo, 2005. Lianne also competed at Worlds in 2003 and again in 2007. As coaches and competitors, they have taken Tornados teams to compete across the UK, USA, Germany, Russia, Denmark and Helen took a team to compete in Norway whilst Lianne coached and judged in Malaysia. In 2010, Lianne was named Sports Coach of the Year in the Littlehampton Gazettes Community Stars.

Both Lianne and Helen competed with our masters team, Flashback. They are Head Coaches of the Programme as well as being on our board of Trustees. This season they will be coaching our Junior Level 1 team, Vortex, together.



Coach Carley Johnson was a founding member of Sussex Tornados in 1998, has been a qualified coach since 2003 and is the Coaches Representative on our board of trustee’s.

As a competing member of the team she competed in UK, Germany, Denmark, Russia and USA in both Levels 5 and 6. In 2003 she was invited to be part of Team Britain demonstration squad and also competed at the World Championships in 2005 with Team UK. Carley is qualified to Level 7, is the Head Coach of the programme and has been Sussex Tornados primary tumble coach for many years. In 2014, Coach Carley took a team of athletes to compete in Florida, coming home with our first win from across the pond!

Carley took on the role of programme director in 2015 and is working hard to build on the successes of Lianne and Helen. She coaches Thunderbolts, Sub Zero, Full Force 10, Supreme Thunder, Hurricane Extreme and Flashback, as well as overseeing the choreography for all Tornados teams, and running tumble classes.

Aside from Tornados, Carley is an instructor for the BCA’s coaching qualification BCQ and travels around the country leading coaching courses, she also works as BCA Staff. She has completed Legacy’s perspective judging course and helps at competitions as an ambassador. Coach Carley continues to keep updating her qualifications and knowledge, providing training to Tornados coaches to ensure that we are all working with the most recent information and techniques.


This is Coach Jordan!! At age 5, Jordan started as a competitive cheerleader and part of the Sussex Tornados family. She has travelled to compete all over the UK, as well as flying to the USA in 2014 and winning 1st place at AmeriCheer in Florida. She is our Cheerleader Representative for the team on our board of Trustees. Coach Jordan is the Head Coach of our Tiny programme (Baby Blizzard and Cloudburst), as well as coaching Ultimate Storm, Sub Zero and Full Force 10 this season. She is a competitive athlete in Supreme Thunder and Hurricane Extreme, as well as competing with our Flashback team each time they have been to competitions. In 2017, Jordan won our 'Athlete of the Year' award for Supreme Thunder. She helps with running tumble camps, private sessions and fundraising events. Jordan is also the Director of our Social Media and our Website Editor. 

In her spare time away from STC, as well as working full time, Jordan works for the BCA staffing at competitions and instructing BCQ courses across the country alongside Coach Carley. She has also helped at Legacy competitions as an Ambassador.


Meet Coach Hannah! She has been cheerleading with Sussex Tornados since 2009 and is now currently on her 5th season of coaching. She has experienced so much with Tornados, including being on TV Adverts and Game Shows. Hannah has also travelled to compete all over the country and many parts of Europe in her time at Sussex Tornados. 

This season, Hannah is an athlete in our Supreme Thunder and Hurricane Extreme teams. She was also an active competitive athlete with Flashback. 

Hannah is coaching Thunderbolts, Ultimate Storm and Sub Zero this season.


This is Coach Abbie. She has been cheerleading since 2010 and been competing since 2013. Abbie joined the Tornados family in 2014, and has worked her way up to coaching. She had been coaching our Cloudburst team since we introduced our Tiny team, and now coaches our Tiny Prep Level 1 team, Baby Blizzard and our Youth Level 1 team, Lightning Strikes. This season she is competing with our senior Hurricane Extreme and Supreme Thunder teams. As well as this, Abbie runs our flyer stretch class on a Saturday. She also helps out with all fundraising events and fetes. Outside of Tornados Abbie does contemporary dance with the RnB dance company and assists at Dance House as a production assistant. Abbie is currently studying Sports Business and Management at Chichester University. 


This is coach Ria. This season will be her 12th season as a competitive cheerleader. She joined our Tornados family in 2014 and this will be her 4th season coaching. 

Ria coaches Cloudburst, our Tiny Level 1 team, as well as competing with our Supreme Thunder and Hurricane Extreme teams this season. 

She runs our Cheer for Fun class for new starters, as well as helping out at fundraising events when possible. 


Coach Leah started cheerleading in 2009, moving to Sussex Tornados in 2014. She started in our Youth Level 2 team, and is now competing in our Senior Level 3 team. She was presented with Full Force 10's Athlete of the Year award in 2017, and has continued to build her skills. Leah joined our coaching programme in our 2017-2018 season as Team Captain of our Cloudburst team, working her way through to being an Assistant Coach of our Tiny Prep Level 1 Baby Blizzard team, and now is a Coach of our Thunderbolts, Mini Level 1. 


Ellie has been cheerleading since 2010 and has been a competitive athlete since 2013. She then went on to join our Tornados family in 2014 and started off by competing in our Youth Level 2 team. She has since gone onto competing in Junior and Senior teams, ranging from Levels 1-3. In 2019, Ellie won the ‘Athlete of the Year’ award in our Senior Level 1 team Supreme Thunder.

Outside of cheer, Ellie is currently studying for her A-Levels in Business Sociology and Art. 

This season will be the first season for Ellie as part of our coaching team. She has been helping to run our Cheer for Fun sessions, and will now also be working with our Youth Level 1 team, Lightning Strikes. 


Meet Assistant Coach, Demi!

Demi is an athlete in both of our Senior teams, Supreme Thunder and Hurricane Extreme. Joining cheerleading in our Cheer for Fun team back in 2012, Demi progressed into a competitive team in 2013. Since then she has grown so much as an athlete with her tumbling, basing and flying skills.

Demi won our ‘Most Improved Athlete’ award in 2017, and continued to push herself from this. Her hard work definitely paid off when she won our 'Athlete of the Year' award in 2018 for Supreme Thunder and 2019 for Hurricane Extreme.

In 2019, Demi was placed with our Cloudburst team as a Spirit Captain. This season, she will be Assistant Coach in our Baby Blizzard team and our Ultimate Storm team. 


This is Gaby - Spirit Captain of our Baby Blizzard Tiny Level 1 team! 

Gaby started Cheer for Fun in August 2015 at 8 years old. She then joined our Mini Level 1 team that competition season. Since then, Gaby has competed with our Youth, Junior and Senior teams ranging from levels 1-3. 

In 2019, Gaby won our 'Athlete of the Year' award in Ultimate Storm for her continued hard work and sass. Gaby is always the first to cheer on her team mates when they need that extra push, and we think this will show through her coaching too. 

This season will be Gaby's first season in our coaching team, where she will be Spirit Captain to Baby Blizzard. 


Meet Spirit Captain Faith! 

Faith has been competing as a cheerleader since she was 5 years old. This season will be her 4th season as an athlete with Sussex Tornados, and within her time here she has competed in a range of our teams, from our Youth Level 2 team to our Senior Level 3 team! 

Faith is joining our coaching team as part of our Cheer for Fun class, and will be the Spirit Captain of our Tiny Level 1 team, Cloudburst. 


As a Charity, the Board of Trustees make all decisions regarding the running and operation of the Sussex Tornados.



Phil has been with the Sussex Tornados since day 1 back in 1998, where he started coaching gymnastics skills. He then took on the role of Chairman of the Sussex Tornados when we became a registered Charity in 2011. He has always been, and will always be, a true and loyal friend to the Sussex Tornados.

Treasurer - Lillian Weston

Secretary - Stevie Coe

Head Coach/Co-Founder - Lianne Blackwood

Head Coach/Co-Founder - Helen Best

Fundraising Secretary - Tracy Jones

Coaches Representative/Programme Director - Carley Johnson

Cheerleaders Representative/Coach - Jordan Burdon

Trustee - Peter Weston

Should you wish to contact any of the Trustees, you can do so by emailing

[email protected] and your email will be directed accordingly.