HRH Princess Anne visiting the Abbey Club, the forerunner of the St Andrew’s Junior Club, in the 1980s

Jo Stanghon and Lesley Rider, sisters, talk with real fondness and enthusiasm about the Club that has been an important part of their families' lives for nearly 100 years. Their Uncle Alfred was born locally in 1908 and joined St Andrew’s in his teens. The family has been involved as members and volunteers ever since; including running the Junior Club, football teams, and other evening activities. They just hope it will continue that way for all their grandchildren and further generations.

A group of local parents took on running the Abbey Club for 5-12 year olds in the 1980s. This became the forerunner to St Andrew’s Junior Club. There were about a dozen parents involved, including Jo's husband Roy who took charge of the football . All were volunteers determined to keep going a Club that would otherwise have folded. And they did so very successfully. Their photo album of memories includes a visit by Princess Anne.

HRH Princess Anne visiting the Abbey Club

In the 1990s they decided that the Junior Club's future would best be guaranteed by joining forces with St Andrew’s. St Andrew’s was of course already well known to them. But Jo remembers that, in her teens, it was a 'boys only' Club. She smiles as she remembers that she was only allowed in on dance nights. Lesley, the younger sister, was allowed to become an Associate Member, and so attend on certain nights of the week. Both are delighted that there are now at least 200 girls, and, as full club members.

Their children were also members. Jo believes that it is because of St Andrew’s two of her children, who continued with the Club as helpers, have become teachers.Her grandchildren are following in their footsteps. Harry volunteers on Thursday evenings in the Senior Club and Frank is a member of the Junior Club. Their grandfather, Roy, remained heavily involved with the football until very recently.

Maggie, her mother and Alfie

Jo and Lesley bounce memories between each other. The Abbey Club award ceremonies; the dances; the athletics in Battersea Park, and the children's' “Woodrow” adventure away days. They see changes in the local area, and new opportunities for the young. Some good, some not. They worry that the Club looks to be the last youth club in the area that is really functioning. ' It is terrifying'.

A final question. Do they have a message? 'Yes. St Andrew’s is really important. It makes this community the kind of place it is'.

July 2016