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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. 

2023-2024 Coaching Staff

Helen Best, Carley Johnson, Hannah Roberts, Jordan Burdon, Abbie Wickens, Lee Woodford, Ria Jones, Leah Greenwood, Ellie Wickens, Megan Rigby, Demi Woodford, Gaby Hogg, Faith Ridout, Layla Mercer and Elisha Lidbetter.  



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 also both on our board of Trustees. 



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 trustees.

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 Cloudburst, 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 has been the Head Coach of our Tiny programme since we first started our Tiny teams, however this season will be her first taking a step away from Tiny's! 

Going into her 8th season coaching, and 19th season as a cheerleader, Jordan will be coaching Ultimate Storm, Full Force 10 and Sub Zero this season, whilst is still a competitive athlete in Supreme Thunder and Hurricane Extreme. She was also competed with our Flashback team in 2019. 

In 2017, Jordan won our 'Coaches Athlete of the Year' award for Supreme Thunder. She helps with running tumble camps, private sessions and fundraising events. 

Coach 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 with staffing at Legacy competitions.


Meet Coach Hannah! She has been cheerleading with Sussex Tornados since 2009 and is now currently on her 6th 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 Hurricane Extreme team. She was also an active competitive athlete with Flashback. 

Hannah is coaching 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, Youth Prep Level 1, Thunderbolts, and our Youth Level 1 team, Lightning Strikes. This season she is competing with our senior Supreme Thunder, Sub Zero and Hurricane Extreme teams. As well as this, Abbie runs our flyer stretch class and open gym tumbling 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 has now graduated from Chichester University where she studied Sports Business and Management. 


This is Coach Ria. This season will be her 13th season as a competitive cheerleader, and she joined the Tornados family in 2014. Going into her 5th season coaching, Ria will be sticking with our Baby Blizzard team, in the Tiny Prep Level 1 division. Ria's favourite memory as a cheerleader was her first time competing at BCA Nationals in Telford in 2022, where she was a member of our Supreme Thunder team who came away as National Champions!! 

Finishing the 2021-2022 season as 'Coaches Athlete of the Year' in Hurricane Extreme, Ria remains as an athlete on this team in the new division of International Open Non-Tumble Level 4.


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 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 Cloudburst team, 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 1-4. In 2019, Ellie won the 'Coaches Athlete of the Year' award in our Senior Level 1 team Supreme Thunder, as well as going on to win the 'Coaches Athlete of the Year' award again this year in our International Junior Level 2 team, Sub Zero.

This season will be the second season for Ellie as part of our coaching team. She has been running our Cheer for Fun sessions, and will continue coaching our Youth Level 1 team, Lightning Strikes. She will also be a competitive athlete on our Supreme Thunder, and Hurricane Extreme teams.


Meet Assistant Coach, Demi!

Demi is an athlete in our Senior teams, Supreme Thunder, Sub Zero 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 for Full Force 10 in 2017, and continued to push herself from this. Her hard work definitely paid off when she won our 'Coaches Athlete of the Year' award in 2018 for Supreme Thunder, 2019 for Hurricane Extreme, and again in 2022 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 Vortex team. 


This is Gaby - Team Captain of our Cloudburst, Mini 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 1-4. 

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 second season in our coaching team, where she will also be competing with our Supreme Thunder, Sub Zero and Hurricane Extreme senior teams.


Meet Team Captain Faith! 

Faith has been competing as a cheerleader since she was 5 years old. This season will be her 5th 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 joined our coaching team as part of our Cheer for Fun class and working with our Tiny Level 1 team, and this season will be continuing to share her knowledge whilst coaching our Youth Prep Level 1 team, Thunderbolts. She will also be a competitive athlete in our Full Force 10, Supreme Thunder and Hurricane Extreme teams this year. 


Meet the newest two members of our coaching programme, Layla and Elisha! 

Both athletes have been cheerleaders for 11 years, starting off in our Cheer for Fun class before moving into their first competition team, Mini Level 1. 

Layla has continued to push herself through the years, and this season will be competing in our Senior Level 1 team, Supreme Thunder, and our IONT4 team, Hurricane Extreme. Her improvement in skills were recognised by her coaches when she won 'Most Improved Athlete' in Supreme Thunder in 2018. Layla's favourite memory so far of her cheer life is winning Grand Champions in Cardiff at Legacy Inspire Greatness in 2018! Layla shows her passion for cheerleading through her performance and sass on the competition floor, and has been an excellent role model to our younger athletes in her final year as a Junior athlete.

Elisha is one of our all-rounder athletes! She has beautiful stretches which show in her flying skills across levels 1 to 4, her basing techniques continue to improve with every season, and she is always pushing to excel in her tumbling skills! She was given the 'Most Improved Athlete' award in 2018 for our Hurricane Extreme team. In her final year as a Junior athlete, Elisha won 'Coaches Athlete of the Year' in Full Force 10 for her continued hard work and determination. Elisha's favourite memory as a cheerleader would either be winning her Athlete of the Year award, or coming away with a National Champions title at BCA Telford with Supreme Thunder in the 2021-2022 season. This season Elisha will be an athlete on our Supreme Thunder, Sub Zero and Hurricane Extreme teams. 

Both girls will be placed with our Tiny Prep Level 1 team, Baby Blizzard, this season. We cannot wait to see them grow in confidence through their coaching career, and wish them the best of luck in their first season coaching. 


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 and Safeguarding Officer of the Sussex Tornados when we became a registered Charity in 2011. However as of 2023, he has taken a step down from these roles. He has always been, and will always be, a true and loyal friend to the Sussex Tornados, and because of this the Trustees have voted him as the Life President of Sussex Tornados.








Treasurer - Lillian Weston

Secretary/Co-Founder - Helen Best

Fundraising Secretary - Tracy Jones

Coaches Representative/Programme Director - Carley Johnson

Cheerleaders Representative/Coach - Jordan Burdon

Parents Representative - Charmaine Charman

Trustee - Peter Weston

Should you wish to contact any of the Trustees, you can do so by emailing and your email will be directed accordingly.



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