[Groups - Youth Club evolving]

The Youth Club evolving

[British Legion Hut]
The British Legion Hut - Late 1940s.
[Fovant Youth Club]
Fovant Youth Club - 2007

The first incarnation of Fovant Youth Club came about in the late 1940s, organised by Mr. and Mrs. McCrae and meeting on Monday evenings in the British Legion Hut on Tisbury Road. As a result of the McCraes’ background in show business, a major emphasis of the club at this time was staging shows and pantomimes, which were performed not only in Fovant, but also in other locations nearby, such as Dinton and Wilton.

[Programme]
Programme with the cast’s signatures
[The cast]
The cast of ‘Aladdin’ - 1952
[Programme page]
The programme for ‘Aladdin’

The club would also go on outings to the seaside, visiting resorts as far away as Brighton and Littlehampton and on the way back would stop off at pubs which had a piano and go in and entertain the customers by performing songs, with the permission of the landlord!

(If you would like to identify the people who are in the photographs, please click on the underlined captions).

Male members of the club had their activities curtailed through the intervention of National Service, taking two years out of village life to serve in the forces. Despite this, the club provided the opportunity for romance among its young members, with some couples such as Roy Simper who married Mary Grant, and Bryan Lee who married Mary Coombes, ultimately enjoying a long and happy married life together in Fovant.

[Outing to Brighton]
Outing to Brighton - 1948
[Outing to Littlehampton]
Outing to Littlehampton - 1952

After the McCraes left the village, the Youth Club continued, thanks to the efforts of the Rev. Hill and the members themselves. However, once these early members grew up and became involved in other activities, the club experienced a decline and by 1958 had ceased to exist.

By the early 1960s the village demographics had changed again and consequently there was enough demand from a new generation of youngsters for the Club to be re-formed. The instigator was Maureen Riggs, who with two friends approached Mr Wally Barrow of Manor Farm, asking for his help, since he had previously been involved in the organisation of youth clubs while his own children were young and the family lived in Surrey. The Club moved its meetings to Friday evenings, with an emphasis on organising constructive activities, and initially gathered in the Legion Hut.

However, in 1964 the hut was removed to make way for the development of four new bungalows, and so the search was on for new premises. Thanks to the involvement and generosity of Mr and Mrs Derbe Berry of Compton House, Compton Chamberlayne, the workshop of cabinet maker Mr John Briggs, located in an eighteenth century farm building on the High Street, was purchased. Mr Berry loaned the money required, which was paid back over a period of time through fund-raising and grants.

[Deeds - 1968]
Deeds of the Youth Club premises - 1968.
[Charitable trust document]
Club land held in trust - 1975.

As a result, Fovant Youth Club today is one of the relatively few youth groups in Wiltshire that owns its own land and premises, with a 1970’s extension having provided the necessary toilet facilities. In 1999 the sale of a strip of land to the owners of the next-door property, Oakhanger Barn, provided the spur for a major fund-raising programme by the committee. The success of this, along with various grants received, has enabled the building to be renovated and a new fitted kitchen area to be installed. Although the outside of the building looks much as it always has, the interior underwent a major refurbishment in 2000–1 to bring it up to date. The club is now a registered charity and the trustees of the club are the management committee, all of whom work on a voluntary basis.

[Weymouth outing]
Outing to Weymouth
[Village Fete]
At the Village Fête
[It's a knockout!]
“It’s a Knockout!” team.

Membership of the club is open to all young people between the ages of five and sixteen years and it opens on Friday evenings from 6.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m., catering for young people from the surrounding villages, as well as those from Fovant itself. The activities provided for the members have also been brought up to date, with requests from children for X-Box game consoles playing exciting fast action games, which are a source of great competition between players as well as testing hand-eye co-ordination. Playstation consoles, with dance mats for ‘teach yourself’ disco dancing, also teach the children the skills of concentration as well as building confidence.

Despite all this modern technology, traditional pastimes such as table tennis, pool, darts, table football and board games are still much in demand and maybe surprisingly, lots of children still love games that could be regarded as old-fashioned, such as bingo. Loud music is always enjoyed by the youngsters, although not always by the poor adults who are supervising.

[Table tennis]
Table tennis
[Table football]
Table football

The Youth Club is affiliated to Youth Action Wiltshire, who offer special activity nights which are subject to a charge, but which might include Giant Games, mask making, mosaic making, seasonal craft activities, making stencil window pictures and outdoor ‘It’s A Knockout’ competitions. Although many things have changed at the Youth Club over the years, chatting with mates and making new friends is always ongoing, showing that the young people of the village enjoy the organised social interaction available in Fovant as much as the adults do.

[Reunion - 1996]

And reunions still take place, this one from 1996.

M.K.K.
2005

Content last updated
11 January 2010

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