A YMCA has celebrated 80 years of being at the heart of its community.
Aber Valley YMCA has stood on the same site in Brynhafod Road, Abertridwr, since it opened in September 1938 – although thanks to the efforts of an army of volunteers it is unrecognisable to what it was.
Its story began in March 1938 when the manager of the Windsor Colliery asked the YMCA in Wales to find a suitable location in the valley. Its purpose would be to serve the young men who worked in the colliery.
Opened in September, the early YMCA was funded by the colliery’s owners Powell-Duffryn and consisted of just a single room.
A gymnasium, now used as a dance studio, was opened in 1939, with a further extension in 1986.
In 2002 a major expansion took place with the opening of the YMCA’s £800,000 sports hall – paid for in part with European Objective 1 funding.
Thousands of youngsters have passed through the YMCA’s doors in its 80 years.
One of them is current chairman Elwyn Evans – who first started going there aged 12 – some 61 years ago.
Mr Evans is also celebrating his own milestone with the YMCA as he has been chairman for the last 40 years. He is just the fourth person to take up the role.
Mr Evans, who was awarded an MBE for his youth work back in 2007, said: “People say how much I have done for the YMCA, but it’s more about what the YMCA has done for me – it’s a reason to get up in the morning.
“The YMCA is in my blood and my whole family are involved.
“We are open five nights a week between 5pm and 9pm and our members range in age between eight years and 15. We have around 400 members at present.”
The YMCA’s 80th anniversary was recently marked with a well-attended concert by Aber Valley Male Voice Choir.