Chris talks to John community champion about his role and what keeps him healthy and well.

So, John. So where were you born? Born in Manchester, SHEFFORD. And, uh, 1948. So a young chick, Still a post war baby

Um, I just love the days when I was a youngster just growing up, and I I can always remember the days when I used to walk up to the shops, local shops, and mum used to and lots of neighbours used to leave the back door open. I never bothered about being broken into, um and so how things have changed over the years and you walk down. I I I had a little business

Uh, what what was the business? A sports business. I started on one of these enterprise allowance schemes and they paid you £40 a week, and, uh, it was called racket sports. It was in most Nigel Road off Kenyon Lane

And, um, it was such a and experience and started on on the enterprise allowance. Um, it gave me the opportunity of how to string rackets, tennis, squash, badminton rackets. And that's the trade that I've learned

While I was over in Denmark and Copenhagen in the early seventies, I went over there for five years, worked for Dunlop and worked as a DJ. So I was playing music. Hold on, hold on

We've kind of, like, jump from you being born in Manchester. Then you're working. I'm missing out a bit of childhood here, so I'm trying to get a flavour

Really? So OK, ok, we'll we'll get to the DJ. We'll get this is how I wonder you do Let's try and be a bit line a bit chronological. So OK, so you mentioned

Obviously when you were a kid back in the day, um, things were different. You could keep you know, your back doors open your front doors open. So what school did you go to went to, um, a school called of Charlestown Primary School

Um, and pictures of me are still up there. And then I went to most fields, and then I went to club top secondary school, which is in or was in o. C

And this has been pulled down. So I had some good days and good years, um, grow up in a secondary school until I reached the age of 21. OK, so you jump in, then I like I like it though

So back to your primary school. What was that like for you? Because I remember my primary school days and mine were difficult to a certain extent because I had a bad stutter, couldn't communicate with anybody. I would just beat everybody up because that was my way of communicating

I just could not really. I couldn't Verbalise. So how was your, you know, primary school days? Really? Because I was I'm one of the twin twin lives in Devon

And obviously back in the primary school days, um, we we looked alike because we dressed alike. Um, but we had glasses, and it was the old fashioned national Health Service glasses. Mom, mom and dad couldn't afford to go to a proper optician

Um, so we were bullied a little bit, Becky for eyes and all this type of thing. These are things that I had to contend with as a child. And the thing is, it's like you, You know what I mean? In these days, you know, with PC correctness and whatever else I think back in those days, PC didn't even exist

So yeah, specie four eyes ginger. And how did that affect you? You know, Spec four or whatever. Well, it's It's given me a level of understanding with the Children today

Um, when the bullying goes on at school. Now, um, I can relate to that and say, Look, I was bullied, and that's why I will not allow bullying in the centre. Now, it's made me more aware of what goes on at school at primary school level and that when you get to other schools, there's lots of it going on

But more so now with social media. Um, we didn't have that problem years and years ago. We didn't have a mobile phone

You communicated between each other. You asked questions. Um, but if you were bullied, um, who did you go to? I I didn't go to my mom and dad

So you had your to the youth club? Yeah. So you had your twin. So, like, say, you both being whatever call for I mean, how did you support each other emotionally back then, I think we we supported each other by just kind of leave it, leave it

And we had quite a few friends at school, and they helped us through it. Um, if it didn't bully you, they found somebody else to bully. Didn't they? Like ways today, right? Um no, we we we dealt with it and we came through it and we're here to tell the story

It's all within primary school because I know when I was in primary school my love for let's say, sport, the stuff started there because, like I say, I couldn't talk. I was stuttering every time. So therefore, when sports came along, you have to talk in sport

You just get up, get on with the football, hit a cricket ball. I love No, not when I was a kid. What did you I didn't even like art

And what did you like? Because the only thing that I liked is it was not in in primary school, but into the upper school at Club Top. Um, teacher used to come around and she was the, uh, environmental teacher. And does anyone want to do any gardening? And I got out of so many lessons just to go into the greenhouse just to go plants, tomatoes and stuff like that

I think that's what gave me my green fingers. What I do today, Um, but I I liked maths I liked English, and there was stuff I couldn't do or didn't want to do. At that age

I didn't like art, but, you know, I went on an Outward Bound course. Um, when I was 21 sat down in the garden at a place in the lake district and I sat down and had a box of charcoal and a piece of paper and I drew a fantastic tree. I thought, Oh, I've got a bit of art in there and only because I wasn't forced to do it

I just did it because I wanted to do it and I was in that environment, sat in the garden, massive, um, oak tree and I and I've still got it today to to kind of see the evidence. I've got it in a frame at home. So, um, it's it's little things like that

You you you You have your good days at school. You could tell the kids, you know, there's teachers that you don't like. There's teachers that I didn't like

Um, but you just made the most of it and you grew up. Sometimes. Mom, moms and dads didn't have the time for those days in the early days to give you support, I found the support at the local youth centre because I mean I mean, I know in my childhood, back in the day, my mom was holding on two shifts as a cleaning on British rail

So therefore, you go to school. You're almost like a latch key, kid. You come home, there's no one at home, but you'd be able to let yourself in

Um, but my mom and dad always knew where I was. My mom worked at a local school doing dinners. Um, my dad works locally, uh, which I ended up in the end, working for the same company

And, um, the the personnel manager said to me, John, Yeah, you can go on an Outward Bound course. You can have a month off work, we'll pay you to do it and go on it. If it's canoe, make your life better and go for it

And it was through that. And then eventually I got that personal manager as chairman of the youth club and the director of the company, small and parked at that time, which was a big, great firm. He then ended up a president of the youth club here, but to get kind of companies involved these days, there's not a lot of businesses around North Manchester anymore, you know? Look at your space, your ma and for a they've all gone now

Um, but my younger days, it was great. Um, and lots of support. My dad knew where I was

My mom knew where I was. Knew I was at the youth club. And if I used to be, the kids around it sat in the living room and a couple of guys would have a guitar

We'd be singing a few songs. Be chatting about what went on, Of course, you got to 18 and 19. You went into your local pub, you down

And we'd have a few drinks in there. What we done tonight, and then we would end up at home for the last hour. And my dad had come in to o'clock

John, Time to go and the boys and everybody went So yeah, you all right? Kind of childhood and growing up days. But my twin twin went his way. He was a mechanic

Um, He then got married at a very early age. I think he was about 18, 17 18 when he got married. So he he went his way and he he's ended up down in Devon

And, uh, I run my life the way I wanted to. And obviously, the love has been for the news club. So So what? Let's say so

What values? Because it sounds like OK, a bit of bullying in school with your twin. Um, but you got on with it. You found, you know, a love for the outdoors and got your green fingers

Um, you found that Obviously you've you've drawn a tree in charcoal and so you you know, there's a creative side to you that I personally think that green fingers and garden There's creativeness in there where you you know, you you see and you planting stuff and thinking, Well, this is what it's going to be like you in business and stuff. And obviously your parents were a target. So what? So what values would you say were instilled in you? What are your values as such from from growing up in the South? I think as a child, our values are kind of like instilled by our parents in an early age

So? So what were those values that you know? They respect one another and help one another. Um, do what you can. Um, There's gonna be challenges out there

Deal with them. Try and get support if you need support for those challenges. Um, and I found there was quite a lot of support out there

So who gave you that support? Um, and people want to name check out there. I mean, people like help you. You think you know what? Where I worked at smaller parts

The the the directors and people like that. And the people who I work with and they I mean, I went on a black pool to Manchester Walk to raise some money for hospital. A walk? Yeah, 47 miles

And we did it. We did it. We completed it and ended up here at the youth club

Um, but it was people that I worked with Did things like that. Did things to the community, raise money. And Booth Hospital was the biggest Children's hospital here in North Manchester since we've lost that

Unfortunately, um, but booth hall was local. People were working there. My wife she worked there, Johnny, when he was a baby, Got got taken into Booth

Um, he couldn't put weight on when he was a baby, so he was in there nearly for three months. Um, and Children now adults. Now they've all gone to hospital

And I've seen a film on it. And how local people were either the nurses, doctors, cleaners, domestics, whatever you want to go. And now, um, they all seem to work at Booth Hospital

That many, But all these places now, Booth and all your companies, your British air space, your IC I your f your manage, they've all gone. So where the local people go to for jobs out in Manchester or the airport and away from the community, we could walk to our hard places or get local buses or cycle there. Um, but all those businesses are now done, unfortunately

So you lose that kind of community relationship. OK, ok, so So what are your fond, fond memories over the time of well over the years and just have to just be from now? We talking? I think in in 1958 I was obviously a 10 year old boy, just being a member of a club. It was called white boys clubs those days and remember that we paid a penny to go in an old penny and that big penny, you know, and that got us into this into the sense into the the old church or the white moss green up we used to call it, and, um, they got us in, and we got a cup of tea and a couple of morning coffee biscuits for a penny

Unbelievable, though, um, so I was 10 years older and kind of built up and got in as a teenager started volunteering, started being an assistant club leader. And then, at 21 I became a full time leader of white moss. Um, paid by Manchester Education again

That was funded for three years. Um, and then I had lots of experiences. Um, back in 1966 met Bobby Charlton

He came round with us, something we used to call, um, Club Week in October, always in in October every year we had a club week and it gave clubs opportunities to go and raise money, and we used to go envelopes into house to house collection and on this occasion, Bobby Charlton came around with us, Didn't charge anything. Um, he he just then came around about five local pubs and clubs. The FAA club, Um, the Charlestown Pub Club Hotel

And it was fabulous. He was just signing autographs. He was signing photographs, and we made about £500 on the evening

Um, and and it's things like that. And 40 years down the line, Bobby sent, I think. Johnny, actually, the son he he, um, wrote to Bobby and he sent us a a signed photograph

Well done. With your 40 years volunteering at White Moss, signed by Bobby Charlton. Um, back in 1966 again

Seems to be a good year. That 66. Oh, the World Cup

Obviously, Um, we I we went away at Christmas with the teenagers, and we spent Christmas on the banks of Lake Coniston. Um, camping tent. Um, and we met Donald Campbell

Uh, he came over one. On Christmas morning. The water of Coniston Lake was so smooth

It was like glass. And we heard these engines and Donald Campbell had gone up the lake and then come back over to the tent and said if you want later on in the day, come down and have a look at the Bluebird and he showed have found the Bluebird and we'd actually seen where Siegel had hit and hit the Bluebird wing and made a massive big dent because it was 300 miles an hour And, of course, back in then February 67 7 that he did his spin and, uh, he died. Um, but just see, three months we were talking to him on the banks of Coniston and all this, um, timekeepers had gone back to Switzerland, so we couldn't do it

That will speed the speed record that particular day. That would have been the best day he'd ever had. They told us, but, um, it was nice that we got the memories and we met him and fancy going camping Christmas Day, you know, that's it

But there was about 20 of us both, and white Moss and we went up and we enjoyed it. We went into a hotel, had dinner proper a proper Christmas meal, and then back to the old timers still later on, Uh, but it's certainly got memories, and I used to take the Children Youth Hostel in. I remember

I think it cost us £10 to go on a week's youth hostel trip. Um, and we used to go to about five different youth hospitals up with the lake district. Um, and it's stuff like that that we used to do a lot of and I enjoy doing

We went to Spain for 15 days. Um, and you had to be over the age of I think we We decided it was 19 because there was a guy. One of the club members

He was 21 Derek and he had his birthday, and the hotel had made a cake for him. We were all dressed up in our ties and suits, and we all jumped in the swimming pool. What a fabulous time

What a fabulous time. Memories. Um, so £75

I couldn't believe that it cost for a 15 day holiday flight hotel. Uh, you know, to try and picture that in in money today, it would cost even the building that we're sat in today. Um, this cost 17

5 £1000 to build. About 20 years later, we we spent some money on the sensor room and that cost us 17.5 1000 just to bring equipment in for special needs Children

So it just shows how values have certainly gone up. Um, 73 1973. I went to Denmark about five years in Copenhagen, um, working as a disc jockey, working for Dunlop sports, and that's where I learned my trade in stringing rackets

Um, I I really enjoyed that. And that's where Johnny came on the scene in 75. He was born and it was and we came back, and, uh, I started the business on on the enterprise allowance scheme

Just just just let's just go back a little bit there. So the this jockey bit tell me some more good days and just jockey can't believe some young people come to me and said, John, I've worked hard today. I've got to go home

I was 23 when I was DJ over in Copenhagen. 24. Um, and I used to work for Dunlop sports stringing rackets

I used to work from half past eight in the morning till three o'clock in the afternoon, go home for a couple of hours at half past eight in the evening till half past four. The following morning I worked as a dish jockey, and I used to do that at weekends. So for all my mobile disco, which I I purchased while I was back here in Manchester, um, I went with 50 records

I ended up. I had 3000 records in about three massive big suit, proper suitcases to carry mobile. It took me ages

They had all those stolen. Unfortunately, Mom and Dad took killed, came home, went back and the guys had disappeared. Danish people disappeared with all my records with disco

Uh, so that was a bit devastating because obviously that was me getting the bus. So So the 50 records this week? Yeah. What's the title in there? Because there's a flavour of what your love of music was back then

It was soul music. It was It was the sixties music. Um, let's twist again

Um, I was a dish jockey. I I I like music. Um, the soul music, the music

Um, that was obviously in Denmark. That was obviously popular. Um, I can see the turn and city Limerick was around

Ever played it once. I must have played it 10 times in one night. But he got everybody dancing

He got him up. So what was what was in the seventies? Middle seventies? Motown? I didn't like the, um the punk music that was out. I hated that, um, but they they they never asked for it

Um, but I if people ask for the record, I used to always play it, Um, because I had everything in order in year of order from the sixties, right up to the seventies and eighties. Um, so, yeah, it was good days. Lots of memories used to call me DJ, Johnny DJ, international dish jockey from Manchester

And he used to be advertising the Danish papers because I opened a few places where you where you were international international, man. He said you You opened a few places. Yeah, there were little as they call them, little pubs when I first went in and chatted to the landlords or the managers, whatever they call them

And, um, I said I I'm a love of music, do a little bit of DJ, and he got to bring a few records down on a weekend. So I started bringing some records down, he said. And then straight away they said, Can you come next weekend? We would love to have a little bit of a dance with local people

From that kind of Saturday night out, it turned into a disco. Then, um, they developed it and turned it in from a pub and a normal pub into a disco I wanted to pay you for because it's changed. I mean, even back in my day and doing a bit of D and back in back in the nineties, eighties nineties

I mean, I was always very Caroline. I used to listen to Tony Blackburn and the other one, not just Caroline, Luxembourg, Luxembourg, And that's where I used to pick it up, pick it up. Yeah, and I had a friend who works at the post office, and he was a DJ here in Manchester

Roy Jackson and, um, I said, Roy, Roy, can you get me those 10 records I've heard on Luxembourg? I've heard him on Caroline. Um, I must have them because Denmark was so far behind with music. Um, and the disc jockeys used to get them well before they got played on radio in Denmark

And that's why this jockeys over there were very popular. Um, and especially me playing the music that he likes. And I think I think it's important for the kids to know today because obviously, everything you can download stream and whatever else I mean, I remember just like you, but not so much radio Caroline as it flowed on the seas, but definitely Luxembourg, because I remember obviously in alongside in Manchester and tuning in your radio because the signal wasn't that

No, it wasn't. Yeah, exactly. So you could just But you would hear those of tunes, you know, that was our way of streaming

I suppose it was. It was yeah. And enjoyed it

Yeah. Helped me in my little business. And it was and they were paying me good money

The last place I worked at something was called the Joker Club. The club. I opened it and I and I was there till the end

And that's when I came back to Manchester. Then when you come back to Manchester in, Johnny was born 75 about 79 1979. The height of this This was this drop out

This school was kind of like it was in that transition. Yeah, yeah, but the club was on the verge of closure, and I said, I've got to go back and just put the life back to the place. Got grants

We were one of the the last inner city grants that we got. We got about £52,000 which back in those days was a lot of money. We got new windows put in

Um, we got the heating system put in. We got all sorts done. Um, but that was a great help to the club, so Yeah

So on on the brick. So you came back because it was off. Well, apart from your DJ gear getting nicked and, uh, the club being on the brink of close, are you? You know, why was that? Do you know why? Why? You know, it just we Well, it's like anything, isn't it? Um, once that person goes, you lose that continuity, you lose those passionate people

Um, and this is what we we we're all here about Today is the way forward. And what happens in the future when I do finally retire. In fact, to be fair, you kind of like

I mean, obviously, this is just a an informal chat, but, uh, one of the questions I did have and you're kind of alluding to it now and that question was, How would you describe the perfect person? Um, of the successor to you? You know what, what values? What do they need to have in order to bring what you bring? And also, to be fair to take it on, you know, to the next level. And that person's got to be He's got to be passionate that whether it's male or female, you got to be passionate to to White Moss, to the area, going to know the people. Um, the beauty of what makes White Moss a success is that, um either I know or Johnny knows or my wife knows, because she was the first girl that ever came into the club the only way

And it was a boys club. The only way she could get in was to help out in the coffee bar that was used to get in. So she was the very first girl, and that's where I met her

She was a, um and I was a little bit older at that time. And it it it's when the Children come through the door. You know, people come through the door

I know them. I know the families. I know the mom and dad

I know the granddads and their grandmoms, and that's why it's a proper community Feel to it, Um, the person needs to be kind of within the community, I think, um, and passionate about the place. Gotta have a lot of kind of experience in in helping fundraising. Got to have the knowledge of, um, different things that's going on in the community


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