MEMBERS of Omagh Boys and Girls’ Club from the 1950s right up to the present day, gathered at the Station Centre last Wednesday night for the group’s Diamond Jubilee.
In celebration of a lasting legacy for the local club, the event heard from a number of speakers about the difference this local institution has made to many local people’s lives over the years.
To begin with, Roddy Tierney, chairman of the management committee, extended a very warm welcome to all who attended. He paid tribute to the work of all past leaders, staff and management committee members whose rich contribution were so pivotal in the club’s thriving existence.
“All these people have given their time generously and voluntarily and now I wish to make a fresh appeal for new volunteers who will consider carrying on this wonderful tradition,” he said.
“It is a tradition worthy of the club’s founder Fr Seamus Shields who would be so proud today of the work that reaches out to the entire community and which resonated his own approach of working with all young people.”
Contrasting life for young people today, compared to those from the 1950s club management committee secretary, Mr Patrick McMahon recalled a peaceful, safe Omagh where large families of children played outside.
“Life is certainly more complex for young people today dealing with the many health issues, education challenges, fewer job opportunities in a more demanding economic and social world,” he said. “Young people are on a journey today in a very challenging world.
“On a journey sometimes you need a guide. A youth worker for me is the guide to help young people negotiate this swamp of complexities and challenges.”
He went on to say that the informal setting of a youth club is an ideal environment for this work to take place.
The former members of the club from the 1950s who were present confirmed that the group’s successes were largely due to Fr Shield’s foresight.
In conclusion, Mr McMahon paid tribute to the current chairman, Mr Roddy Tierney. “2012 may be the diamond jubilee for Omagh Boys and Girls Club but a golden thread has braided this organisation for 45 years since his first involvement in 1968. Mr Tierney’s hand has guided the steering wheel on a voluntary basis for all those years.”