The day was a huge success and saw old members old and new catching up with friends and sharing stories whilst enjoying our photographic and memorabilia displays over some birthday cake.
Many of the photographs on display had never been seen before and remained untouched since they were originally taken. Alongside this we had a wide range of artefacts dating as far back as 1884.
Some of the treasures unearthed included a handwritten note from the famed WW2 British Army General Field Marshall Montgomery stating how pleased he was to learn about the plans for a new YMCA Manchester building which was to be named in his honour, and the Queens signature in our guest book, dating back to when she was Princess Elizabeth during a visit in 1949.
What became apparent during the event is just how important YMCA Manchester was to many of our older members and how much it has shaped their lives. Ken Wolstenholme a member from 1947 – 1953 stated “there was nothing like the YMCA around at the time, and I met so many good friends and learned new skills.” Ken’s son Lee accompanied him on the day and is one of our current members.
Sylvia Hood recalls her experiences since becoming the first female YMCA board member in 1987 as “YMCA Manchester feels like home, you are not just a member of a club, you are the member of a society that helps local people.”
After months spent wading through archives and putting together the event, Manchester’s Youth and Community Department John Boardman and Sarah Axford, also felt they learned new insights into the history YMCA Manchester including the fact that Basketball has been played here for over 100 years and its introduction into the country was spearheaded in the North West by YMCA Birkenhead.
Additionally, the Manchester Rostrum Club which is part of the wider global Rostrum public speaking network is officially the oldest in the world and was formed in 1923 by Sidney Wicks in Prestbury Manchester.
YMCA Manchester is pleased to report that the newly refurbished Manchester Central Library has since expressed an interest in taking many of our historical on loan in order to facilitate a permanent interactive exhibition about the YMCA in Manchester, which will make all our fascinating history accessible to the wider public.
Reflecting on the event, our CEO Michael Gandy pronounced “It was great to see lots of our old members getting together and celebrating our proud history, here’s to another 170 years!”