Brian McMenamin, a long-time stalwart of Long Tower Youth and Community Centre, is retiring after forty years’ loyal service.
The Waterside man, who turns 69 in two weeks’ time, says he’s leaving the job he “loves” knowing he’s had a “positive influence” on many young people.
“That feeling of having helped people, of having had a positive impact on their lives, is probably the abiding memory I’ll take away with me,” Brian told the ‘Journal’ this week.
“One of the greatest feelings you can get in a job like this is seeing former club members go on to achieve something worthwhile. It’s gratifying to know that you played a role - no matter how small - in helping these young people.
“I feel very lucky and, indeed, honoured, that what started out as a hobby turned into a 40 year career. You really can’t ask for more.”
Brian, who’s been leader at the club since 2000, says it has come a “very long way” since he used to have to work wearing a duffle coat due to the cold in its then headquarters in an old hut in the Brandywell.
Now based at modern new premises at Anne Street, the centre is used by around 800 people every week while two full-time and more than a dozen part-time workers are employed on various programmes.
The Long Tower Club was founded by Father Henry O’Kane as a social outlet for the young men of the community in October 1943.
It’s amazing to think that, for four of those seven decades, Brian McMenamin has been at the fore of driving the club forward.
Brian, who was reared in the Dungiven Road area of the city and still lives in the Waterside, cut his club teeth as a member of the Waterside Boys’ Club which was based at the long-gone St Patrick’s Hall on Spencer Road.
His links with the Long Tower club reach back to the 1960s when it was based at the Lourdes Hall on Lecky Road.
“I started off working as a volunteer and stayed at the club for three years. I then returned to the Waterside club for another year but an anticipated job then didn’t materialise and, after much thought, I took up a job at Molins where I stayed for five years.”
It was in 1974 that Brian returned to the Long Tower club, eventually taking over as youth leader in 2000.
“I’ve loved my job,” he says. “I also worked alongside some really great people over the years.
“It’s been a pleasure - even during the darker days of the Troubles when we were an oasis of peace in the middle of a world spinning out of control.”