MBE youth leader faces sex charges

PUBLISHED: 16:00 28 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:27 03 July 2010

A MAN viewed as a pillar in the community through his voluntary work with youngsters appeared in court this week charged with gross indecency against two boys.

A MAN viewed as a pillar in the community through his voluntary work with youngsters appeared in court this week charged with gross indecency against two boys.

Henry Day, 69, set up the Young Citizens Guild in 1957 in London but later moved his organisation to Hemsby in 1972, where for the last 36 years it has helped instil qualities of confidence and citizenship in local youngsters.

Dozens of youngsters aged from eight to 18 attended the holiday and weekend camps at the guild's seaside base, mainly working closely with the police, fire service, coastguard and armed forces.

Day, of Wood View, North Walsham, is alleged to have committed five offences of gross indecency against the two boys at the guild's base in Hemsby between 1985 and 1990. Two other charges relate to incidents alleged to have happened in Dagenham, Essex, over the same period. Day, known locally as Harry, is also charged with four counts of inciting the children to commit gross indecency. He also faces a charge of perverting the course of justice.

The charge alleges that he telephoned one of the boys on June 28 this year to “persuade him to give an account of your relationship with him which was consistent with that which you had already given to the police earlier that day”.

During the short hearing on Monday morning at Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court, Day, who was made an MBE for setting up the organisation, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address. He was released on conditional bail to appear at Norwich Crown Court, on August 4, for a preliminary hearing.

The Young Citizens Guild started as a summer time organisation but turned into an all year round operation. In 2001 it had 200 members and in January of that year it became a charitable trust. Last year the guild celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The organisation moved to Hemsby in 1972 after Day began travelling to the area at weekends and during holidays. He moved here in the late 1990s.

In an interview with the Mercury in 2001 Day explained the reasons why he set up the charity.

He said: “One was always hearing bad things about young people and I took exception. I thought, I am a young person, I am fed up with this and I am going to do my bit. And I think I have done a big bit.”

The guild is best known for its child tagging system which drastically cut the number of children going missing on local beaches in the early 1970s. The guild handed out wristbands so that if a child got lost they could be identified and reunited with their parents. The number of children reported missing on beaches in Yarmouth and Hemsby was cut by 60pc.

Guild volunteers also helped prevent Hemsby churchyard becoming overgrown and in more recent years they have assisted the county's emergency services in a wide range of difficult situations from isolating poisonous canisters of cyanide, to pulling stranded birds out of oil drenched waters.

Day was made and MBE and awarded the British Empire Medal for his work.

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