The story of Grimsby’s YMCA is one of struggle, survival and faith. It is a story that we felt needed to be told and Heritage Lottery Funding enabled us to tell that story. Our year long A Rich History project gave us the chance to undertake new research and to record the history of our influential, community-focused local organisation and the people who have kept it working since as the research revealed 1882 when the first ever branch was formed by James Kirkby Riggall a well known Grimsby grocer.

For the first time, there is now a local and national historical record of the work of the YMCA in Grimsby and the surrounding area since 1882. It is something of which we are justly proud; at heart, it is a history of people, of community and of commitment in the face of hardship.

Ken Montgomery Head of International Affairs YMCA England in his forward to the project book Grimsby YMCA – A Rich History wrote:

The history accounted in the book is entwined with that of a growing YMCA movement that came into being in 1844 and today serves around 58 million people across the world in 119 Countries.

Those who established the YMCA did so to put in place programmes, recreation, learning and faith to improve the lives of their peers working in the drapery and other trades in the east end of London. From these humble beginnings, the YMCA has grown into the largest ecumenical youth organisation in the world – as relevant today as it was in those early days. The same can be said about its relevance in the communities it operates in across the world.

When we explore its history we find the footprints of people providing YMCA services in times of war, of economic depression and also in time of celebration and sport, glimpses of which you will find in A Rich History.

In considering the history of YMCA we see a tradition of service, very often at times of greatest need. There is much to be learned from our shared history, not least from the results we see through service to others and how that service contributes to building communities where values of equality, trust and humanity assist us and others to achieve our own full potential.