Jackie Gifford made history in the 1960s. She and three school friends Rita, Maureen and Kathy plucked up the courage to ask St Andrew’s Boys Club leader, Hugh Dean, that girls be allowed to become members. After a little thought, and almost exactly one hundred years after the Club started, they got the right answer. St Andrew’s YOUTH Club has never looked back and now over 150 St Andrew’s members are girls.
Jackie lived round the corner in Monck Street, in the now demolished Portcullis Theatre where her father was the caretaker. She says “The Club opened up new worlds to me.” And she has photos to prove it. Pictures of Club dances with brilliant 20ft paintings celebrating the psychedelic sixties pop culture. Sailing on the Thames. Walking round Parliament Square collecting money for the Club. Weekends pony trekking in Devon and rock climbing in Wales.
She says she was not very good at racquet sports, but it didn’t stop her meeting and then marrying David Gifford, the badminton coach. They are now retired and live in Walthamstow. Her best friend Kate who she met at the Club now lives in Australia, but they are still in touch.
She said the Club made a really big difference to their lives. Little things like Len and other Club friends showing her and Kate how to order an Indian meal. “These are still powerful memories. The Club really helped give me confidence in my life.”
Visit this gallery to see lots of Jackie’s pictures and a trip down memory lane.
If you are a former member of the Club and would like to share your story of what the Club meant to you, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.