It all began with a leaflet through the door. "You are invited to a 'New Members Evening' of the Harrow and Wembley YHA Group at 8pm on Thursday 23rd February 1978 at Perrin Road School, Sudbury".
I went along.
About 60 turned up, almost half apparently new faces. There was a very friendly atmosphere and quite an impressive show of previous group activities. I joined straight away and soon afterwards went on my first weekend.
37 turned out for that day trip to Ivinghoe, one of whom was another new member, the ever eager Pete Coombs (wearing the same woolly hat and jumper as he does on present weekends!)
Despite foul weather the walk proved quite enjoyable and I began to go away on a regular basis. Visits to places such as Stow on the Wold, Monmouth, Severn Bridge, Crickhowell, Cambridge, Sheringham, Blaxhall and numerous others; thus becoming well acquainted with many more of the 'long serving' members of the group - Reg Dean, Dave Ford, Trevor Key, Dave Cunninghton, Doug Turner, George Collier, to name a few.
As the year progressed more new members were gained, some of whom took an avid interest in rock climbing and fell walking. I soon began hostelling further afield. To Pen-y-Pass and Idwal cottage in Snowdonia, one Christmas spent walking the Lakeland fells in Grasmere, caving at Ingleton and skiing at Aviemore.
I then left the group for a few years due to other commitments, returning once in a while to keep in touch, and always to a friendly reception. In the summer of 1984 I rejoined becoming a regular once more.
The many recurrent events the group runs e.g. Disco, Bonfire Night, Christmas Party etc all seem to have gained in popularity and the longer weekends such as Easter have introduced many members to more distant regions of England and Wales that they might not otherwise consider waiting.
The sponsored trip to Snowdonia last August, to climb the 14 Welsh 3000' peaks, raising hundreds of pounds for 'The Guide Dogs for the Blind', is a prime example. Over the years I've been at the group, many members have drifted away through changing jobs, moving home or marriage, but there's always been a steady flow of new faces to balance this out, many of whom quickly became involved in the group's activities either by leading weekends or taking a place on the committee. As long as this gradual progression remains, and I see no reason to doubt it, I see no reason why I'll not be here in 2036 (at 77) celebrating the centenary of Harrow and Wembley YHA.
Account by Mark Grant