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Fun times at Wolvercote Young People’s Club


Oct 4, 2022

Wolvercote Young People’s Club in Oxford, which was facing an uncertain future four years ago, is enjoying a new lease of life.

In 2018, there were fears the club in St Peter’s Road might have to fold after its funding was cut and its rent raised.

Following a re-launch in January this year, the club’s daytime and evening activities are proving popular again, with membership up from 15 to more than 150.

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The turn-around in the last few months has been remarkable, given that activities at the 83-year-old club were also hit by the Covid epidemic.

Many readers will have memories of enjoying life at the club, including those who feature in the first two pictures from the 1980s.

The two boys in Picture 1 are sparring in the gym while in Picture 2, we see 14-year-old Lee Spearman during a workout.

Photo: Oxford Mail

Pictures 3 and 4 were taken in 1990 when the club’s team won the southern regional heat of the Boys’ Clubs’ Sportsmobile Challenge.

The winning members, all in white left to right in Picture 3, were Kevin Wheatley, 14, Ben Broughton, 13, Peter Strong, 16, Matthew England, 14, and Nicky Reck, 14.

Photo: Oxford Mail

Throughout the day, they competed against teams from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Middlesex in rifle shooting, archery, gymnastics, football, assault course tests and a general knowledge quiz.

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Others in the picture, left to right, are Paul Varney and Daniel James, from the pop duo Yell, Keith Roostan, of sponsors Berni Inns, and the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Patsy Yardley, who presented the Wolvercote team with the trophy.

Photo: Oxford Mail

Picture 4 was taken at the same event and shows Kevin Wheatley on top of an inflatable balloon during the assault course.

When all the hard work is done, there is time to unwind – in Picture 5, one young competitor relaxes in the coffee bar.

Photo: Oxford Mail

In 1987, the club launched an appeal for £20,000 to pay for extensions and Picture 6 shows a donation from customers at the Prince of Wales pub in Walton Street.

Pictured left to right are pub landlord Barry England, club chairman Jim Duthie and club leader John Kempson.

Photo: Oxford Mail

Today, with the help of grants, the club is getting back on its feet, with day and evening activities including sport, art and day trips.

Charity manager Roy Peach said: “It’s amazing what has been achieved within a year. We have a whole new youth work team and they have built strong relationships with lots of young people.

“The club is becoming an exciting hub within the locality again and it’s due to the dedication of our staff who are providing a variety of opportunities to empower our young people to grow. After two years of instability due to Covid, it is exciting to see what the future holds.”

Wolvercote Boys’ Club was formed in 1939. It admitted girls in the early 1970s to meet equality laws, but the renaming to Wolvercote Young People’s Club was not made until 1997.

Today, the club is busier during the evening, but is planning to start daytime youth work soon for young people struggling at school.

It has also been able to provide holiday activities and has a strong team of skilled workers to support evening sessions.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF