Dennis wins Community Champion at Pride of Reading 2018

A man who has dedicated 40 years of his life to a youth club in Tilehurst has been nominated for a Pride of Reading Award.

Dennis Morgan, 61, started running the Tilehurst Junior Youth Club in 1978, when he was only 20, and estimates that some 5,000 youngsters have been through the doors since then.

His daughter Laura, 31, is so proud of her dad’s dedication to the Tilehurst community she nominated him for the coveted Community Champion Award.

She said: "He has gone above and beyond in his spare time for 40 years to provide a sociable place each and every Friday (excluding school holidays) for children aged eight to 12 to socialise with others their age, have fun and find new interests.

"This youth club enables activities, discos and weekends away all for children in the area, within the age category.

"With a full-time job, he still manages to organise and facilitate fundraising, recruit new volunteers, organise events for each calendar month, among all the other work that it must entail.

"He has severe arthritis, and is in need of new shoulders and new knees. However, it doesn’t ever stop him loading up his car, driving the 30 miles to Tilehurst, unloading and setting up for the night.

"I am so proud of him that he continues to do this so selflessly every single week without fail.

"All of his consistent efforts over the years ensure these kids have somewhere to go, and give parents a break for a couple of hours on a Friday.

"I attended the youth club among many of my childhood school friends and my brothers and sisters.

"One of my favourite memories of the youth club was going away for the weekend camping, where activities had been organised such as archery and making our own boat out of barrels on the lakes.

"I think many who have grown up in the area will remember my dad Dennis as a valuable member of the community who is well-deserving of the Community Champion Pride of Reading Award."

When told of his nomination, Mr Morgan, who now lives in Hampshire’s Test Valley after 24 years in Tilehurst, said: "It is a great honour to be nominated for the Pride of Reading Awards.

"It’s been my privilege to serve the people of Tilehurst for so long and to lead such a great organisation that is still in much demand.

"I was completely shocked by Laura’s nomination but feel very proud that she took the time to nominate me."

On what makes him most proud about Tilehurst Junior Youth Club, he said: "I feel very proud that we are able to run this organisation without any statutory funding and that it provides children in Tilehurst with some excellent opportunities at an affordable price.

"We have a fantastic group of volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure we have the resources and support we need to provide the service.

"I enjoy seeing children and young people grow in confidence and ability as they develop into young adults.

"I’ve seen children who won’t talk to anyone when they arrive at the age of eight and, by the time they are ready to leave four years later, they are ready to take on the responsibility of becoming a junior leader, helping to organise activities for other children."