Youth worker is stepping down after 50 years of volunteering

Witney Gazette: Christopher Oliver watches Lewis Ives at Woodstock Youth Centre. Picture: OX60211 Ric Mellis Christopher Oliver watches Lewis Ives at Woodstock Youth Centre. Picture: OX60211 Ric Mellis

A veteran voluntary worker who has dedicated 54 years to helping youngsters, has made an appeal to grown-ups.

Christopher Oliver, 71, who is preparing to step down on July 16 after more than half a century of youth work, wants more adults to engage in youth club activities across Oxfordshire.

Mr Oliver, of New Road, Woodstock, said: “There are just not enough adults around to cover the time.”

The former social worker who was made an MBE by the Queen for his work in 2006, said: “The computer games and all that has changed youth work.

“In my day we used to make our own entertainment.

“Now the kids can do all that and get in to pubs and play pool – they would rather do that than play at the youth club.”

In the years since Mr Oliver, a grandfather-of-four, began his volunteering in 1959, he has seen huge changes, including youngsters preferring pubs to youth clubs.

He suggested there should be more youth club nights, and urged more adults to volunteer. But he said of his imminent departure as youth leader and committee members of Woodstock Youth Club: “I am going to miss it.”

The club runs two nights, one on a Tuesday and the scooter club on Wednesdays.

Though Mr Oliver, who used to work part-time at Woodstock Museum, won’t lead the club he will continue to run the scooter club.

Mr Oliver joined Wolvercote Boys’ Club at the age of 11, staying until he was 18 when he joined the management committee for the next eight years.

He went on to run Bladon Youth Club successfully for 21 years before getting involved with Woodstock Youth Club in 1971. He has also been involved in Yarnton and Witney youth clubs.

He added: “I have been asked many times why I enjoy youth work — I am a glutton for punishment!

“It was just something I think I got into my blood when I was a youngster at Wolvercote Boys’ Club.”

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