A sixty year romance that started at YMCA in Grimsby

May 11, 2020

YMCA Humber has had a role in the local community for 138years. There have been some fascinating stories over the years inspired by the many activities and services YMCA Humber provides.

There have been confident journeys of self-awareness, inspired by the positive outcomes of individuals, families and the community. YMCA Humber has also been the catalyst in lots of personal relationships.

One of these relationships is with Tommy and Joan Lee. Over 50 years of married bliss, and it all started at YMCA Humber.


Joan met Tommy Lee at YMCA on the Heneage Road site in 1951, when she was just aged 15. But despite their young age, Tommy had a vision and he said at the time, ‘I’m going to marry that girl’. He was there to play sport; Joan was attending a secretarial course as the Grimsby YMCA then was very much a place for sports and training courses.

Tommy was outgoing, Joan was quiet, but their relationship blossomed, and they got married on 30th March 1957, when Joan was 20.

Tommy was a plumber and gas fitter. On the 8th February 1960 he was called to a house in Park Street, Cleethorpes on an emergency call. Contractors had fractured a gas pipe in the road, and it was leaking gas into the house. He managed to get the 4 occupants out of the house before it exploded. Tommy and his apprentice were injured, as he carried his apprentice to safety and then collapsed and was in hospital for some time.

He was awarded the British Empire Medal for Bravery in 1960 for saving people from this incident, plus a commendation from The Carnegie Hero Trust Fund. He was 23 years old.


Their first home was in Waltham and they started a family in January 1961 when their first daughter Tracy Francine was born. Tracy went on to become a published author [Tracy Baines]. Her book, The Variety Girls, is set in Cleethorpes.

Their second daughter Dianne Elizabeth was born on the 12th February 1964 and she is now a Counsellor and therapist. Four years later their third daughter Taryn Jane was born on 4th March 1968; she became a barrister and qualified as a QC 8years ago.

Shortly after this Tommy decided he wanted to run a pub, so he trained and took over the management of The Pier Hotel (also known as The Submarine). Entertainment was key and there was entertainment provided every night of the week.

It was then time for a change and Mr & Mrs Lee decided to take over a large fish and chip restaurant along the promenade to turn it into a night club. The popular Sands Club was born, and an array of wonderful musicians performed to support the many famous cabaret artists. Tommy and Joan were keen philanthropists, holding many charity nights to raise money for children with additional needs and disabilities.         

Tommy loved every minute of his time at The Sands, just like everyone who ever went there. He created such an impression with people that he continued to be friends with some of the acts until the day he died. Dougie James and Mia Carla were at his funeral and Talli Halliday would have been there, but ill health prevented her.

They went on to take over The Victor Club on Oxford Street, Grimsby and renamed it The Casablanca Club and again had well known acts of the time such as Ken Dodd, The Supremes, Bernard Manning, and many more, who became part of their lives as some stayed with the family rather than checking into hotels.

Tommy reached out to everyone as he was a very sociable and kind individual, a true ‘mine host’. He continued with his charity work by organising a mini Olympics and pool tournaments at The Casablanca, ably supported by Joan and their family. When he retired, he did voluntary work for ACE Services helping young people wherever he could, with the same goals as YMCA Humber.

Joan and Tommy Lee had a very interesting, happy and varied life together. They were due to celebrate their 55th Wedding Anniversary in March 2012, but unfortunately Tommy passed away in February 2012.

Their lives together began at YMCA Humber and they continued to practice its mission and values through their own very special lives serving the local community.



YMCA Cricket Team

Tommy ready for cricket

The courting years
Tracy, Dianne & Taryn
Celebrating their Golden Wedding