Tell us your YMCA stories!
To mark the youth charity’s 150th birthday this year, Nottinghamshire YMCA is appealing for local people to share their memories which will shape a heritage exhibition in October.
With hopes of generating ‘150 Stories’, the campaign celebrates how this regional charity has impacted lives in our community through its mission to empower young people and families to belong, contribute and thrive together.
Stories will be displayed as part of an anniversary heritage exhibition at the Malt Cross events venue, on St. James’ Street, in October.
Among the first to share their YMCA story is Roy Manterfield, who moved to Nottingham for work in 1974 and took up fencing the following year at Nottinghamshire YMCA’s fencing club between 1976-1981.
Roy shared: “There was a great group of people and the social side of the YMCA club was brilliant; we fenced at other local clubs and in competitions and held quite a few social events and trips.
“Normally the fencing took place on Friday evenings and we usually went over to The Dolphin pub on North Church Street for a drink afterwards before it was demolished to make way for shops.
“Memories of the YMCA fencing club are particularly poignant for me, as I met my wonderful partner and wife Sue there.”
For many in Nottingham, YMCA is represented by the striking grade-II listed art deco building which is surviving the test of time on Shakespeare Street in the city centre. Designed by Nottingham Council House architect Cecil Howitt, construction began in the 1930s and its doors opened in 1941 during the darkest days of the Second World War.
The building has served many purposes over its long history; a meeting place for Scouts, Monday evening tea dances, games of basketball, public enquiries in the 1960s and, for a period in the 1980s, a hostel for backpackers from around the globe.
Today, Nottinghamshire YMCA services span the region with youth programmes, supported housing for homeless young people, 24-hour children’s residential care, gym and CrossFit facilities, childcare, community outreach, digital programmes and so much more. The charity’s most recent development is their pioneering Community and Activity Village in Newark.
Simon Brighty, Group Mission and Marketing Director, at Nottinghamshire YMCA, said: “Within our buildings and frontline services, what really matters is the local people of all ages and backgrounds whose futures are being transformed by their YMCA journeys decade after decade.
“Having proudly served the Nottinghamshire community through two world wars and now a global pandemic, it is empowering to know YMCA continues to touch so many lives 150 years on as a welcoming safe space where we can all grow in mind, body and spirit together.
“We hope people share their stories to help breathe life into our shared community identity and educate our direction for future generations to enjoy.
“Maybe your dad was a backpacker staying at Nottinghamshire YMCA’s hostel in the 1980s or you fondly recall learning ballroom dancing or shorthand at the YMCA’s community hall turned gym spaces? No story or memory is too small to share!”