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YMCA Calls for Your Memories for 150 Stories Campaign

28 April 21 words: LeftLion

The Nottinghamshire charity is celebrating its 150th anniversary with 150 Stories, an exhibition curated from your memories and experiences...

If Nottingham was a body, with its veins and arteries consisting of the streets and avenues snaking through the city, then YMCA has been its beating heart for the last 150 years. Pumping life, support and a sense of community over such a remarkable length of time, it has impacted countless young people and families to come together, belong, contribute and thrive. And now, on the dawn of their 150th anniversary, YMCA are appealing to Nottingham residents to share their stories to help shape a heritage exhibition this October.

“Memories of the YMCA fencing club are particularly poignant for me, as I met my wonderful partner and wife Sue there,” Roy Manterfield recalls. “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. 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.” Roy is among the first to come forward with his memories, which, after being collated for the 150 Stories project, will be displayed at the Malt Cross on St. James Street.

Roy Manterfield (far left) with fencing coach Geoff Dawson (centre, glasses and moustache) and 12 club members, including Roy’s now-wife Sue (next to Geoff), taken in June 1979, and Roy and Sue now.

It’s testament to the eclectic nature of the YMCA and the services it provides that the charity could well mean 150 different things to 150 different people. For Roy, it was the fencing club at which he met his wife, for others, it was the meeting place for their local Scouts, Monday evening tea games, basketball games, a centre for public enquiries in the sixties and, for a period during the eighties, even a hostel for backpackers from all over the globe. But for most, the YMCA is best represented by the grade-II listed art deco building which continues to survive on Shakespeare Street. Originally designed by Cecil Howitt – the architect responsible for Nottingham Council House – it began construction in the thirties, opening its doors for the first time in 1941, during the height of World War II.

In 2021, 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. Most recently, the charity have developed their pioneering Community and Activity Village in Newark.

Maybe your dad was a backpacker staying at Nottinghamshire YMCA’s hostel in the eighties 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

“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,” Nottinghamshire YMCA Group Mission and Marketing Director Simon Brighty says. “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.”

He continues, “Maybe your dad was a backpacker staying at Nottinghamshire YMCA’s hostel in the eighties 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!”

If you would like to contribute a memory of your experiences at Nottinghamshire YMCA, or know someone that might, visit:

nottsymca.com/150stories

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