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Burnley’s Oldest Youth Charity Remembers

125 years ago this year, Burnley Boys Club was formed by Henry Riley, who’s family home is still there in Briercliffe today, the family were weavers in Burnley and Henry wanted to support the young boys of the community, give them a focus and support in mentoring them to bettering themselves.

Over the next 16 years from 1898 – 1914 Burnley Boys grew to having 600 members and when the call came they all signed up to fight for King and Country, they all became members of the Accrington Pals and stood together as pals of the Club, even Riley became Captain Riley and gallantly stood beside his young men in the fourth wave at the Somme  on the 1st July 1916, 125 of them including Riley fell never to return home to Burnley, although Riley’s body was never recovered his memory, as does the memory of the 125 fallen club members lives on in the community hall that serves as a function, eatery and dancing venue to 1000’s of people every year, with every penny spent going back to support the work Henry started 125 years ago.

The next chapter of the club is just as important to the people of Burnley, who after the great war decided not to have a memorial to the fallen but to pay £5000 for a club to support the young people of Burnley, the club is still supporting 100’s of young people weekly and still lives by the same ethos Henry Riley started 125 years ago, today we support young people from every walk of life with a huge array of different issues and some very complex needs, with the focus still on support and mentoring them to bettering themselves and to reach adulthood with as many opportunities as possible, with the support of brilliant organizations over the last six years in particular the club has transformed to becoming a lead representative in supporting the young people across the county, the development work planned for this year at the Barden Lane site in Burnley along with the extension of sites across the Ribble Valley and South Ribble means the original Boys Club is now one of the largest youth organizations across Lancashire supporting 1000’s of young people that started 125 years ago with Henry Riley wanting to give back.