1961

1961-62 saw The Florrie continue to run the more traditional activities alongside new interests such as go-karting, canoe building, budgie breeding (the Pioneer section only) and continental camping trips.

Despite the innovate programme, these were challenging times for the Youth Service: ‘Officially, children between the ages of 11-14 years are outside the scope of the Youth Service, and yet in this area they can be seen on the streets from the moment school finishes until 10.00pm and even later- a constant prey to mischief and delinquency. The Florence Institute, some years ago, was specifically asked to do something for these boys by the Local Authority. We responded by opening the Club for this age group between the hours of 6-7.30pm but, because of constant need for economy, the Corporation is no longer able to assist us in this work either by way of per capita grant or by the provision of instructors. The welfare of these youngsters is a vital task and any young man or woman reading this report wo would like to help with the task of looking after them, for even one hour a week, would be doing an invaluable service.’

The Committee was enthused that more parents attended the annual Prizegiving Night than had been seen in some time, but made strong judgements about the domestic lives of some families: ‘I have long been convinced that some of our parents really don’t know what the lads do in the Club and, to a large extent, do not really care as long as they are out of the house by the time they are ready to go to the ‘Bingo’ or the Pub. In many cases, particularly with the Pioneers, the lads’ tea consists of four pennyworth of chips which are brought into the Club to eat when we open at six o’clock. There are also other cases when the lad doesn’t get his tea until eight o’clock, when he is going home, because ‘Mam says I’ve got to wait until the old fellow gets in.’

This sort of insight into the youngsters’ home life is only too apparent at camp, when they boy will refuse food because ‘I don’t like it.’ In many a case this is because he has never even tasted a real variety of good food, but as soon as he is given a chance to choose his own food, a diet a fish and chips and bread and jam is perfect evidence of his known limit of menu in the home. A sad reflection of the life of a civilised person in 1962.’

Good news came in the form of an anonymous donor, whose generosity facilitated the purchase of a mini bus, and another of a go-kart. The minibus was made available to the football, cricket and swimming teams, and also made it possible for the Adventure Clubs to embark on extended weekend trips to Yorkshire, Derbyshire and central Wales.

A continental camping trip was also enjoyed: ‘In early June ten lads and two staff left Liverpool in the Mini-bus bound for Amsterdam in Holland, via Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. In all we covered some 1,300 miles under very reasonable weather, particularly in Holland, and the expedition was a complete and unqualified success. The lads had the opportunity of camping in a different place every night and a tremendous variety of sites we had, too, ranging from a really luxurious site  in Luxembourg, to a football field in Northern Belgium. They visited the world- famous Grottoes and Hans dur Lesse in Southern Belgium, there the underground trip of some 2 ½ hours culminated in a boat trip on an underground river. For the middle week-end we stayed at the International Youth Hostel at the Hague and met a party of young American also on a European tour. They also had the opportunity of seeing the N.A.T.O. Tattoo, similar to the Edinburgh Tattoo but comprising of the fifteen nations of the N.A.T.O countries, and indeed twelve brave British voices made themselves heard amongst the crowd of thousands when the British Army display was completed. ‘

Two American Winant Volunteers joined the Florrie during the summer, Judy Calloway and John Bryson. Judy was a particular hit with Florrie members, described in the report as ‘the typical Dingle lads picture of an American ‘Judy’, a real Doris Day cum Marilyn Monroe rolled into one.’ Apparently the canteen takings shot up no end when she was behind the counter!

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