In a special article Colin Wilson looks at the past, the
present and the future of Hethersett Jubilee Youth Club
Hethersett Jubilee Youth Club hall is in the Post Code area of NR9 3JJ. It is situated
in a piece of land rented from the education department which was part of the
Hethersett High School grounds.
The Jubilee Youth Club first started at the Hethersett Middle School in the
1970s when Hethersett was expanding rapidly as a housing area for people working in Norwich some six miles down the road. Numbers attending were high,
between one and two hundred, and it soon became a priority to build a hall
specifically for use by young people. Grants were applied for and fund raising
commenced. This resulted in the Jubilee Youth Club hall being built in the
early eighties on its present site. I believe it is still the only provision
built in the county specifically for young people, by its own community.
I joined the committee when the hall was nearly complete but prior to
opening in 1984. There was little money left so everything was done on a shoestring.
The hall was then at the back of the village and down an unlit country lane with
no footpath. It was poorly heated but we managed to run a mixed club and had
income from hall lettings. The club then split into Junior and Senior clubs. Of
the two, the Junior club was the more successful and has always been easier to
manage. As with schools, the older the children get, the less parental voluntary
support there is.
Over the years, the club has been on a bit of a roller coaster, with numbers on
the committee varying from only one, to 16 or more at its peak. We currently have eight committee members. After opening we struggled but by the
nineties we were on a high, organising street carnivals and processions in
Hethersett, outdoor Christmas carol evenings in the village centre, BBQs in the
forest, raft races on the river and so on. Clubs were running two or three
evenings a week with membership in the hundreds and good attendances on club
BBQs and raft races were essentially youth club events but supported by the community with added manpower and resources when required. It was during this
period that the hall heating and kitchen were upgraded. Although not directly related to the youth club it was during the late nineties
that the Hethersett Youth Parish Council was formed resulting in the provision
of a skateboard park across the road. The Hethersett Youth Parish Council is probably unique to Hethersett
and is run on similar lines to a Parish Council and is a reflection on how much
time and effort Hethersett puts into its young people.
Carnival and carol evenings involved the whole community but were organised by
the youth club to raise the profile of youth in Hethersett.
A direct offshoot of the youth club is the Slides of Old Hethersett shows we do.
This is very popular with older residents and newcomers alike. It all started as
a simple club quiz, and then a fundraising activity alternatively for
youth club and church funds. We organise a narrated show in our hall, using slides taken
directly from old photos and postcards of Hethersett prior to World War
Two. I now have a collection of about 450 pictures going back into the 19th century. In many ways
this has strengthened the links between youth club, the churches and the older
An old slide of Mill Road, Hethersett
By the early 2000's we were beginning to struggle again and became more reliant
on professional youth workers running the senior clubs and grant money from the
Parish Council, as our ability to fund raise declined. Some good work was put in
by dedicated youth workers trained and managed by Children's Services and
NACRO, taking part in Thetford Forest trekking and hostelling in North Norfolk but then
we lost the very successful junior club when the manager moved abroad, followed
two or three years later when our senior club youth worker resigned.
Youth Club memories from Thetford Forest, Barbecues and raft races.
Click on photos.
The youth centre was redecorated by volunteers from Canaries for the Community
in July 2005. Canaries for the Community is a community initiative from Norwich
City Football Club, supported by Norwich Union. Each year community work is be
undertaken involving NCFC fans helping at a non-league East Anglian football
club and assisting in a local area of need. Volunteers, which included NCFC
staff and fans spent two days painting the whole centre as well as weeding and
tidying up the grounds.
Canaries in the Community get to work in 2005
To enable a successful and sustainable Youth Club, we need to encourage the use
of the hall by other groups within the community. To attract others into our
hall requires a major upgrading of the premises, perhaps changing the type of
provision we have. Some upgrading is required to comply with modern regulations,
some to meet changing need of the youth and the community and others just to
make it a pleasant place to be.