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YMCA’s Link to Grimsby Chums

July 1, 2014

THE NAME of Captain Charles H Bellamy is one that has been featured in local headlines recently, as we look back at 100 years since the outbreak of the Great War in 1914.

And a Grimsby-based exhibition sheds light on Captain Bellamy’s involvement with the early days of YMCA Humber and the legacy he left behind.

The Grimsby Chums exhibition in Freeman Street Market, Grimsby opened in April through Synergy, with its main attraction being a 50-minute film that commemorates the bravery and sacrifice the Chums made during the First World War.

Young people from YMCA Humber were involved in the early research stages for the project and a number of photos they took of memorials in the local area are featured in the exhibition.

But perhaps the best part of the project from a YMCA standpoint is the story of Captain Bellamy.

A volunteer at the original Heneage Road project in the town, Captain Bellamy was one of the first hundred men to volunteer for the army, following Lord Kitchener’s call for 100,000 soldiers to enlist in 1915.

Bellamy encouraged other volunteers and residents from the YMCA to also enlist with the Army and many of them joined the Chums and other Lincolnshire Regiments.

The Chums suffered unimaginable loss on 1st July 1916, when they went ‘over the top’ at the Battle of the Somme – over 500 men perishing on the first day of the battle.

Although Bellamy would not return from the battlefields of France, he wrote a letter home in January 1916, before he crossed over to the continent.

Contained in the letter was his Last Will and Testament. In this he bequeathed the YMCA in Grimsby £50 upon his death. Today that amount would be worth £2,500.

And the YMCA would put this donation to good use, paying off a large lump sum of the mortgage on the Heneage Road site, reducing the outstanding amount to £700.

Nearly 100 years on, Captain Bellamy’s devotion and legacy within the YMCA is felt every day as young people utilise our services and, in some cases, join the Services themselves.

In the coming months we will be looking closer at the work of the YMCA during World War One, please keep an eye on www.ymca-humber.com for more details.