LOOKING BACK - March 1, 2018 edition

In 1980 with his British Empire Medal received for services to the National Association of Boys' Clubs, West Midlands
In 1980 with his British Empire Medal received for services to the National Association of Boys' Clubs, West Midlands

Tribute to Bradby Boys’ Club leader Len Blackmore

This week we are remembering Len Blackmore, leader of Bradby Boys Club for 22 years, who died last month at the age of 92.

Len Blackmore featured in a 1979 cutting

Len Blackmore featured in a 1979 cutting

Len was the first professional leader and was recognised with the BEM in the New Year’s Honours list in 1980.

Born and raised in Walsall, he began work as a toolmaker, and then joined the army in the airborne division. He became a paratrooper, a sergeant in 3 Para, serving in Palestine.

When he returned to civilan life he lived in West Bromwich and continued to work as toolmaker but ran Charlement Boys’ Club in the evenings and at weekends.

In 1958 he was asked to run the Bradby Boys’ Club, which celebrates its Centenary next year. He had quite a unique approach, his sense of humour clearly evident in his famous pinch on the cheek welcome, with the accompanying words, Chubby! Chubby!

A cutting from 1959. Len worked there six nights a week from 1958 and became full time in 1962

A cutting from 1959. Len worked there six nights a week from 1958 and became full time in 1962

He made sure there was always plenty much to do at the club, everything from football, boxing, canoeing and fishing to drama, chess, table tennis, model making, ballroom dancing and many more.

Len was respected for his honesty and obvious wish to better the lives of the people in his care.

He encouraged each member to value themselves and to value others. Many remember him with affection and have cause to thank him for turning their lives in the right direction. He influenced the lives of so many boys and girls for the good.

He will be forever etched within the legacy of Bradby and the memories of those he touched.

Len also worked as a part time teacher at the Harris School, teaching metal work and was a magistrate in the town.

Len’s 22 years at Bradby was definitely a team effort. His wife, Olive and daughters, Val and Sue were often supporting Len at the weekends, when girls were allowed to join in the activities. Len also had the support of his loyal team of helpers and the management committee.