Meet the dedicated volunteer who’s been involved with a Sunderland youth centre for almost 60 years
A community has rallied together to thank a dedicated and kind-hearted youth centre chairman as he marks 30 years in the position.
Ray Knox first got involved in Grindon Young People’s Centre when he was just 11-years-old.
Now aged 69, the grandad has been the chairman of the centre for 30 years and has been praised for his tireless dedication to the community.
Ray, who lives in Grindon, said: “I first went in there as an 11-year-old for a game of football and I’m now 69 and I’m still there.
“I’ve gone through the whole gang, I’ve been a member, a youth leader and now I’ve been the chairman for the last 30 years.”
From hosting breakfast clubs and organising major community events, Ray makes sure everything runs smoothly at the centre.
“Everything we do is voluntary which I do pride myself on,” said Ray.
“Money coming into club and goes back to the kids and it’s all down to the volunteers who give their time.”
Having been involved with the club for almost 60 years, Ray still enjoys it admitting he could never just sit down drink a cup of coffee and watch the TV.
He said:“I still thoroughly enjoy it at some point I will have to pass the baton on - I’m 70 this year but for now I’m happy to keep going.
“I don’t see it as doing anything special, it’s just something that needs to be done.
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“As long as I put effort into the building and keeping the doors open then I know there will be money and people coming in.”
Having only retired four and a half years ago, Ray has worked as a logistics manager, owned his own cleaning company and worked at EDF Energy - all while running the youth centre.
He admits his favourite thing about his role is meeting the children and grandchildren of people he knew coming into the club.
Ray picked up the Lifetime Achievement award at the Sunderland Echo’s the Best of Wearside event in 2015.
Ray’s also been praised for a fun day event he held for the community ahead of Christmas.
Coun Debra Waller, who has known Ray for nine years, said: “He’s always been very community focused and he does some many things that really makes a difference to children’s lives.
“At Christmas he held an absolutely fantastic event for everyone, but he puts on events and does so much to help throughout the year.
“He’s an amazing person and he puts a lot in the centre, he should be so proud.”
Kevin Lackenby, of JK Bouncy Castles, has also praised Ray for his work organising the family fun day event.
“You can tell he’s so dedicated to helping others and he’s holds the community so close to his heart.”