Family of late Northampton volunteer relaunches youth club that he ran for over 30 years

Barbara Smith is pictured officially cutting the ribbon to reopen the Briar Hill youth club.
Barbara Smith is pictured officially cutting the ribbon to reopen the Briar Hill youth club.

The wife of a former "passionate" Northampton volunteer has officially reopened a youth club in her husband's memory and, aged 84, has agreed to run the tuckshop.

Barbara Smith helped to run the Briar Hill youth club - based at the community centre in The Springs - with her husband, Jim Smith, between the 1970s and the 1990s.

Barbara with four generations of her family. From L-R: Tarnia Slater, Barbara Smith, Janis Slater, Nikki Smith and Gemma Capstick.

Barbara with four generations of her family. From L-R: Tarnia Slater, Barbara Smith, Janis Slater, Nikki Smith and Gemma Capstick.

Now, with the full support of her family, she is back on her old stomping ground and handed out refreshments to children on Friday night (October 27) as the new tuck shop worker.

Barbara's daughter-in-law, Nikki Smith, 44, who came up with the idea with family member Tarnia over a glass of wine, said: "Jim spent a lot of his time ensuring the kids in the area had a youth club to go to and cared a lot for the community.

"He worked hard to get this set up many years ago and ran it with Barbara, his daughter, Janis, and others for many, many years and made a huge success of it. All the kids loved going there on a Friday night.

"He passed away in 2009 and since then there's been a lack of community spirit in Briar Hill and there's no events or meeting places for the children growing up on the estate today.

"We therefore decided, as members of his family, to try to reinstate some of this once again to give our children the opportunity to make wonderful memories of their time growing up and to give them a community to be proud of."

The club, which has received funding from Councillor Pinder Chauhan (Con, Sixfields), played host to 52 children aged between eight and 13 years old on the night of the relaunch - with five members of Jim Smith's family on hand to volunteer.

Nikki added: "Today all our children know is computers and technology and don’t get the opportunity to interact and socialise in a safe environment.

"If you asked any child growing up on Briar Hill throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s who Jim Smith was, all the kids could tell you who he was and what he meant to them for what he managed to achieve for them."