Memories of YMCA Black Country sought in build-up to 180th anniversary celebrations

Memories of YMCA Black Country sought in build-up to 180th anniversary celebrations

COMMUNITY memories of the YMCA in the Black Country from the 1950s onwards are being sought ahead of the 180th-anniversary celebrations of the charity for young people.

YMCA Black Country Group wants to hear from people who joined community events in previous decades, used local services, lived in accommodation or worked for the charity so they can share their stories during the commemorations in June.

On June 6 the YMCA, the world’s largest and oldest charity working with young people and their communities, will celebrate its 180th anniversary with Founders Day, its annual celebration of its launch. In the Black Country, the charity has been operating since 1888.

Locally, YMCA Black Country Group has a series of events planned throughout the year, including a community open day and celebration in West Bromwich. As part of the preparations, the team is gathering memories to celebrate the charity’s work including a photo exhibition.

Grace Maddocks, Head of Communications at YMCA Black Country Group, is among those collating archive material and recollections. She said:

“We are excited to commemorate the first 180 years of the YMCA with celebrations of our work across the Black Country and would love to hear from people who have memories of their time with us.

“You may have worked for us, been amongst our first gym members, spent time living in one of our accommodation settings, used the Bridge project in Wolverhampton or been to one of our dances or concerts. With our open-door policy, the YMCA has helped people of all ages, faiths, cultures and backgrounds.

“We have touched people’s lives in many different ways, from our housing services through to our nurseries, that we would love to hear people’s living stories of their experiences, the people they met and the impact it had on their lives as we celebrate our past and shape our future.”

1986 YMCA royal wedding at the community centre in Penn Road, Wolverhampton. 1983 Express & Star photo of YMCA task force at work in Hamstead Road, Great Barr.

The YMCA’s history in the Black Country can be found in the digitised photo archive of the Express & Star. Shared with permission from the daily newspaper, the digitised images include one from 1983 showing young men from a task force laying a car park and building a wall beside the hut of the 1st Dartmouth Scouts in Hamstead Road, Great Barr. According to the caption, the photo shows Steve Cook, Patrick McKoy, Karl Hill and Paul Waters at work.

A 1950s photo shows a queue for a popular dance outside Percy Thomas Hall, in Stafford Street, Wolverhampton. When the nation celebrated the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1986, another photo shows Darren McNally and Kerry Hill stepping in for the Royal couple in a mock recreation at the YMCA community centre in Penn Road, Wolverhampton.

The community open day in West Bromwich will be held on June 22 at the YMCA Western Gateway site in Carters Green. With sites across the Black Country, today the YMCA provides a range of services including childcare, housing for young workers, supported accommodation, employability, and health and social enterprise projects.

For more information on YMCA Black Country and its 180th celebrations go to: www.ymcabc.org.uk/180 Anyone with memories of the YMCA in the Black Country should contact Grace Maddocks by emailing [email protected] or messaging YMCA Black Country Group on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.