VIDEO: Spondon Church Boys' Club reunion tribute to founder The Rev Thomas Barber
FORMER members of Spondon Church Boys' Club gathered in the village to reminisce and raise a glass to the late vicar who made it a "perfect" group.
The reunion was held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of the Rev Thomas Barber, who founded the group at the beginning of the Second World War and kept it going until his death in 1988.
As well as providing fun activities in Spondon, the club also took boys away on an annual two-week camping trip. For many, it was the only holiday they would get.
Many former members have since moved away from Spondon but a number returned to the village on Monday night as the club, which folded after Mr Barber died, held its first reunion for 15 years.
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Some only needed to walk a few minutes to attend. Others travelled much further, including 69-year-old Dave Carruthers, who now lives in Bermuda.
Mr Carruthers, who joined Spondon Church Boys' Club in 1951 at the age of eight and remained a member until he was 24, was thrilled to be at the reunion at the Malt Shovel pub.
He said: "I've seen some people tonight who I haven't seen for 40 or 50 years.
"It was a special club. We were all working-class boys and it opened the window on the world for us.
"Sessions were twice a week. I played in the football and cricket teams but there were plenty of other activities too. It became a way of life."
Also there was Steven Beet, who is now a teacher in Siberia. The 53-year-old said he had planned to return to Derbyshire to see friends and family, but timed his trip to coincide with the reunion.
Asked what had made the club so special, Mr Beet said: "It was the influence of one man – the vicar. He was a remarkable man. If half the good work he did in Spondon was known about now, you wouldn't believe it.
"He was a friend, leader and father-like figure. He held the greatest respect from everybody. I was at his funeral and I remember the church being absolutely packed."
More than 60 former members attended the reunion – and early in the evening they raised a glass to Mr Barber.
Addressing the room, Jim Stringer, 63, said he still treasured his memories of the late vicar and the trips, particularly to Sidmouth in Devon.
He said: "The only camp Mr Barber missed was the last one, because he was too unwell to attend. It was run exactly the way Mr Barber had run it. After all, he had set the rules and he set the way we did things – and it ran perfectly."
Louis Record, 74, of Allestree, said: "I remember coming back in the vicar's car and we crashed with a motorbike. The vicar sat there and prayed the rider would be all right – and straight away he got up and was as right as rain."