The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Norwich exhibition marks huge impact of YMCA 

An exhibition which marks the enormous impact of the YMCA across the world over its 175-year history visited Norwich as part of a nation-wide tour.

YMCA Norfolk is hosting the 175th anniversary exhibition within the Castle Quarter until February 13 (open from 10am to 4pm).

Opening the exhibition today (February 10), YMCA Norfolk CEO, Tim Sweeting, said: “We are celebrating a milestone in the history of an international movement which is the oldest and largest youth organisation in the world.

“We are also here to remember Sir George Williams who started the YMCA in London back in 1844, at the age of just 23. And I am delighted that we have been joined by one of his direct descendants Gerlinde Williams, whose husband Colin was the great great grandson of Sir George.

“We are also celebrating the work of YMCA Norfolk, which started in 1856.

“This history inspires us to keep going, reminds us that we stand on the shoulders of giants and we are stewards of this great organisation for the next generation which will still need us.”

Cllr Vaughan Thomas, Lord Mayor of Norwich, who was also at the exhibition opening, said: “I have known about the YMCA for many years but there are so many things I have learnt today which I never knew about. It is such a great example of young people making a difference. The YMCA is a paradigm for other organisations.

The exhibition is open from 10am – 4pm – at Castle Quarter, 100 Castle Meadow, NR1 3DD (Ground Floor, opposite YMCA Charity Shop) until February 13.

YMCA interesting facts

  • YMCA staff invented both basketball and volleyball
  • 35,000 YMCA staff and volunteers served during the First World War 
  • Famous YMCA volunteers included Clementine Churchill, wife of Sir Winston Churchill and Princess Helena Victoria (grand-daughter of Queen Victoria)
  • A YMCA volunteer came up with the poppy emblem
  • YMCA has run a huge range of educational opportunities including dental work in Brazil, wrestling in Russia, pruning in Korea, typing in Senegal and health work in China

Pictured above are Cllr Vaughan Thomas, Gerlinde Williams and Tim Sweeting in front of a portrait of Sir George Williams and behind his original desk, which are both part of the exhibition.

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