Porthcawl’s ‘Mr YMCA” comes of age!

Thursday, 30 June 2016

By GEM Community Correspondent

in Local People

Porthcawl resident John Berry was born on June 23, 1936 in Stockport, Lancashire.

He makes no apology for his birthplace: he wanted to be near his mother at the time!

Talking of time, yes he has often been mistaken for Dr Who, the Time Lord, when he walks up and down John Street.

John had an 80th birthday party to celebrate and it was held in the ‘Y Centre’, a community venue that John was a prime mover in bringing to life from the old YMCA building.

Organisation for the birthday party was in the capable hands of Mark and Pim Morgan with the cuisine being fundamentally Thai. They were ably assisted by Weaw Kimpton and Yuay Gould, two charming Thai young ladies who had come all the way from ‘Little Thailand’ in North Cornelly not only to help, but to entertain by demonstrating Thai dances.

Set up and presented by Romeo Poon from the Philippines, everyone was also entertained with a slide show monologue of our John from when he was a pretty baby right through his 80 very full and interesting years, to now.

As well as all the other birthday gifts, he was presented with a framed composite picture containing a montage of photographs by Andrew Collier, vice chairman of the YMCA.

Accolades were given by Ruth Birch on behalf of the Rector, Rev Phillip Masson and the parish of Newton-Nottage; Coun Robert Lee, Mayor of Porthcawl and David Newton-Williams, past Mayor thanking John for all the hard work that he had put in over the years organising the Civic Fund and Carol Show in the Pavilion.

Mike Clarke commented on the vision that John had had to develop the Y Centre out of the old YMCA and bring a living community hub to Porthcawl.

Rodney Carrol, a friend and colleague of John for over 60 years spoke of the times and tribulations that they had both shared.

Finally, Rev Jean Humphries thanked John for providing a rock for her to lean on when she was leader of the ‘Churches Together in Porthcawl’.

Weaw and Yuay in their colourful traditional-style Thai costumes gave some demonstrations of Thai dancing and even resorted to rock’n roll to get John Berry up on the floor dancing with them.

John, in his response, was very emotional and thanked everyone for coming and joining him on this very special occasion. He introduced his special guests Tricia and Chris Stockdale, cousins, Pat and Malcolm Davies, cousins, Grace, Peter and Sarah Fung from Hong Kong, Charles Fung, also from Hong Kong, sister and brother Christine and Tommi Zchou from Mainland China, Romeo Poon from the Philippines and Hella and Rodney Carrol, very old friends for over 60 years.

John concluded by saying how much Porthcawl meant to him and how wonderful it was to be surrounded by so many good friends of both local and international standing.

John received the accolade of being the centre of attraction while Happy Birthday was sung to him. A very fitting end to a wonderful evening of celebration and entertainment.

Report and photographs by Keith E Morgan.

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