Joe, 22, was incredibly proud to be selected to represent YMCA England at the recent Remembrance Day Parade in London. Having used YMCA East Surrey’s services since he was a child, Joe, who has learning difficulties, feels like a part of the YMCA family.
“I was pleased and honoured to be chosen,” he said, after the event. “I wasn’t worried about the marching, because I’ve been practising in the kitchen.”
YMCA East Surrey Inclusive Youth and Volunteer Projects Manager, John Brunswick, explains:
“When it was announced that we might have a chance to be involved in the Cenotaph Parade, one name came to me straight away. I have known Joe and his supportive family for over 6 years and I can recall Joe being able to quote Winston Churchill when he was attending our short break Yip4Youth scheme as a teenager. He has a huge interest in World War I and World War II. I knew that he would understand the magnitude and significance of the day but also to be able to reflect about its meaning and to get something constructive out of attending the event.”
Nutfield residents Joe and his mum, Lucy, travelled to London and met up with other representatives from YMCA’s across the country. The group marched together towards the end of the Parade of 10,000 people and YMCA England’s CEO, Denise Hatton, laid a wreath at the Cenotaph.
“The best part was getting to meet a truly fabulous group of people which was very humbling,” says Joe. “Representing the YMCA was a privilege and a very proud moment for me.”
“It was a sad and happy day because I was also thinking about all the people who died, fighting for our country. And it was quite emotional to know that so many people would be watching.”
“I feel I am a part of the YMCA. I’ve been going for a long time, since I was little and when I go there I feel very welcomed,” says Joe.
He has previously taken part in many YMCA events, raising £200 at one of the Santa fun runs. Joe’s mum, Lucy, says:
“YMCA East Surrey is a proactive, caring and motivated charity offering interesting and stimulating educational support to children and young adults with special needs. Our family have always found them to be accepting and understanding.”
Joe now attends YMCA East Surrey’s Friday Night Project and other inclusive provisions. He has also received support through their befriending service.