Balham Club celebrates 49 years

Balham Club celebrates 49 years

PICTURED: Deputy Mayor Jane Cooper (right) presents the plaque to Ms Carmen Williams assisted by her son Paul Williams

THE BALHAM and Tooting Sports and Social Club in south London, one of the oldest Caribbean organisations in the UK, celebrated 49 years of existence recently with the ceremonial handing over from a trustee management to a newly registered company limited by guarantee, which will now carry the club forward with a new vision to attract younger members.

The official hand-over was made by one of the last surviving founding members, Ms Carmen Williams, 97, who was on hand to sign the legal document which transferred the management from the long-standing trusteeship to its new status as a company and charity under the new name of Balham and Tooting Community Sports Club Ltd.

She was assisted by the younger generation members Ms Rosie Burton and Assistant Secretary and Youth Development and Sports Officer Mr Darrell Morris.

The members of the club, led by its president Mrs Lorraina Mayne and Chairman Mr Noel Williams, also used the opportunity to pay tribute to the work of Ms Williams who was acknowledged as being among the original founding members of the social club which was established in 1970.

Other special guests at the gala dinner included the Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth, Mrs Jane Cooper, Labour MP for Tooting Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and Mrs Tracey Blackwood from the Jamaica High Commission.

Balham and Tooting club members listen to the presentations being made at the handover ceremony

In her tribute to the club’s last surviving Trustee, Mrs Mayne said: “We would like to thank Mrs Williams for all she has done for Balham and Tooting Club. You are the reason why everyone is here today to thank you for what you have contributed to make this club a success.”

Chairman Noel Williams in his tribute said he wanted to set the record straight in terms of Mrs Williams’ significant contribution to Balham and Tooting Club. He said the club’s records had always referred to the ‘13 found fathers’ when in fact it was actually 13 men and five women who started the club.

For some reason the women were airbrush out of the history books but the error can be explained, he said.

“When the photograph of the founders was taken, 12 of the 13 men were available and because all the women were nurses and working on shifts on the day, they were not included. The emphasis therefore was always on the men.

However, when we checked the original ledger of the membership, each person was assigned a number when they joined and Mrs Williams was listed as number five which clearly puts her at the forefront and making a contribution from the very first day the club started.”

Members of the management committee pose for a picture with last surviving Trustee Ms Carmen Williams (seated)

He acknowledged that Mrs Williams did a lot of the ground work with the founders to initially secure the lease for the premises in the first 15 years which was later translated into the free-hold ownership. He also noted that as a Trustee, Mrs Williams always gave sound advised to the management based on her vast experience.

Mrs Tracey Blackwood, Minister Consular at the Jamaica High Commission, said she was pleased the club had decided to recognise Mrs Williams in such a public way.

“It is very touching to see this Jamaican woman give up her strength in this way to contribute to the community and we have to give honour and recognition for her work. We have to recognise those who are great ambassadors for our country.”

The Deputy Mayor Mrs Jane Cooper also paid tribute to Ms Williams for the work she had done in the community, not only with the club, but as a nurse in the borough. Mrs Cooper then made a special presentation of a plaque in her honour which will be mounted in the club.

Other members of the management committee paid their individual tributes including, Secretary Dr Sydney Marshall, former chairman Donald Douglas and long standing member Mrs Frederica Harris. The vote of thanks was given by Ms Gweneth Worrell, the club’s Sick and Welfare Officer.

After the formalities the members partied into the night to music provided by club DJ Dervyn ‘Pappa Manzie’ Mayne.

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.