May 20 2013 Latest news:
by Sukran Sahin, Senior Reporter
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Fred Barns has long been a stalwart of the community. Born and bred in Dagenham, he worked as a youth club leader for decades before joining the council as an elected member representing Thames ward and becoming mayor in 2007. He lives in Barking with his wife Phyllis.
I love the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. I was born here and went to school here.
I went to Clarks College in Ilford and came back for my final years at Eastbroook School.
I did an apprenticeship as a chemical plant operative at May and Baker and worked there for five years, went to Ilford Ltd, came back to May and Baker and went off to university in Liverpool.
I was still working at May and Baker when I got married and led a voluntary boys’ club run by the National Association of Boys Clubs.
In 1964 I went to the Beverley Boys Club.
Many kids from Beverley Boys School came there. I turned it into a mixed club.
After a year, the local authority invited me to work for them but I kept in touch with many members for years. Next year we will have a 47th reunion.
I started off as a deputy youth leader in Marley Youth Club, which is now Dagenham Park Club, and became youth leader in Goresbrook.
I became borough youth community officer and leader at a new club called New Cambell Club in 1970.
That year, Prince Philip came to visit – something to do with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. We converted our waiting room into a creche.
My daughter, who was three or four at the time, was on a kiddie’s slide, and he went in.
He asked her why she was would not come down on the slide.
She said: “Because I got my knickers caught.” He said: “Oh, come on, I will release you. My daughter does it all the time.”
Doing my time as mayor years later, I had the privilege to meet him again with his visit at Kingsley Hall.
I told him: “I had the pleasure of meeting you in 1970,” and I told him of that incident.
He left and walked away with his hands behind his back. Ten seconds later, he walked back into the hallway and said: “Can you tell your daughter next time not to get her knickers caught?”
I bring it up all the time.
Everywhere I go, people ask me if I remember them, including many council officers and councillors who used to be members.
The youth clubs – that was my life, apart from having a young family.
In 1995 I decided to take early retirement. I was elected into the council in 2002. In 2007 I was elected mayor – a real honour – and I stood down from the council in 2010.
I’m still involved with voluntary work. I’m the vice-president of North East Scouts Association, vice-chair of Barking District Scouts, life president of Barking Youth Football Club.
With young people, you have either got it or you don’t. They are the same everywhere.
You have got to have a rapport with them.
You can pick up any paper, and that includes local papers, and read about what those mischievous miscreants – youngsters – have done but they also happen to to do lots of good things.
From my experience, we have had some really fantastic kids.
I have got a son and a daughter, David and Deborah, both born and bred in the borough. Their children are going to school here.