Guild disbanded after sex attacks
THE organisation at the centre of sexual abuse where young boys were systematically abused has been disbanded. Large iron gates at the overgrown and derelict Young Citizens Guild base in Hemsby are bolted shut and padlocked and will never open again to youngsters, who over the years kept the area's beach safe.
THE organisation at the centre of sexual abuse
where young boys were systematically abused has been disbanded.
Large iron gates at the overgrown and derelict Young Citizens Guild base in Hemsby are bolted shut and padlocked and will never open again to youngsters, who over the years kept the area's beach safe.
The closure follows last Friday's conviction of Henry Day, known as Harry, who was found guilty of 21 counts of sexual abuse against young boys after jurors at Norwich Crown Court heard he subjected members of the guild to systematic attacks.
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The 70-year-old, of Wood View, North Walsham, was jailed for 13 years for the offences which took place between 1973 and 1995.
And an investigation has now been launched by the Charity Commission into the matter.
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This week, a former chairman of the guild spoke of his betrayal.
Broadland district councillor Mike Snowling became chairman of the Young Citizens Guild when Day
He said: “The police advised me that we should wind up the Young Citizens Guild and we really felt there was no alternative but to take this action; this was done within weeks of Mr Day being charged.
“I feel devastated by these events, I feel totally betrayed and that my trust has been abused. I am just glad that during my involvement with the guild I was able to help some of the children.”
Questions now remain over what will happen to the guild's base at St Mary's Road in Hemsby, which the Mercury understands is privately owned.
A spokesman from the Charity Commission said: “As the regulator of charities, the Commission takes any matters involving the abuse of vulnerable beneficiaries very seriously and works with the appropriate authorities. We have opened a case to look into this matter further and are making relevant inquiries.”
The guild was started in 1957 in London by Day, who then moved his organisation to Hemsby in 1972.
Members of the Young Citizens Guild helped keep the beaches of Norfolk safe and sound for tourists, fishermen and local residents. They worked closely with the county's emergency services, tackling a wide range of life- threatening and difficult situations including isolating poisonous canisters of cyanide and pulling stranded birds out of oil-drenched waters.
In 2007, the guild had about 100 members aged from eight to 18 who attended holiday and weekend camps at its base, which was set up to help develop members into confident and community-minded citizens.
Day was given an MBE for teaching young people how to save lives and grow up to be responsible citizens - an honour which he could be stripped of following his conviction.