St. Peter's Club
As the St. Peter’s club has recently celebrated its golden jubilee, let’s retrace its compelling story from the late 50’s to now.
In 1959 the priest of the Italian church, reverend G De Filippi had the idea of creating a youth club where Italian immigrants could gather once a week to deal with religious themes and spend their free time.
The committee for an Italian Catholic youth club was so created as a catholic youth club more than an Italian club, as the president was an Englishman of Catholic religion, Charles Smith.
On the 16th of July 1960 a new committee was elected, Vittorio Heissl was its president.
The attic of St. Peter’s church become the headquarters of the club.
On the 8th of December 1960 the club officially opened as “Casa di San Vincenzo Pallotti”, named after the founder of the Pallottini’s order.
One of the first activities of the club was the spiritual retreat to the medieval church of Aylesford, in Kent, and the annual pilgrimage to that same church.
By the 1970s, there were a growing number of teenagers who were London- born sons and daughters of Italian immigrants who had arrived in the 1950s and 1960s. The club began to reflect the growing integration of Italian and English culture. The club organized sport activities for young people, the “Olimpiadi della gioventù italiana” (O.G.I.) was created at that time together with football, netball and rugby teams. The youngsters attending the youth club could also benefit of camping trips, theatre productions, band rehearsals and gigs organised by members.
The club hosted charity dinners and lunches and other events such as pool competitions, quiz nights and table tennis competitions. St. Peter’s club also sponsored marathons to raise funds for disabled people and some organizations like Oxfam.
In the 70’s the club hosted Italian lessons sponsored by the Italian Government. English courses were also available together with help for people looking for jobs and also assistance for filling in fiscal forms.
The club also had its own magazine “L’incontro” giving information on the club’s activities.
On the 26th of June 1976 the St. Peter’s social club was inaugurated and obtained from the parish the attic on the other wing of the church.
By the 1980s and 1990s, the club had changed once again. Other rooms were opened, the club had expanded and so had the Anglo-Italian community.
Nowadays the youth club is opened on Friday from 4 to 8 for children from 2/3 months to 8 years.
On Sunday morning the club is open from 10.30am to 2 pm for children from 8 months to 11 years old. During this time children can play “calcio Balilla” and other games, supervised by their parents and a group of volunteers. This appointment represents also a nice occasion for parents to mingle while having a coffee. The youth club is also involved every year in the annual Procession. The most popular appointments are the firework night, the quiz night and the Carnevale.
During this year, St Peter’s club will be mainly involved in the activities for the celebration of the 150 years of St. Peter’s church.
We thank Victor Heissl and Michele Morena for their collaboration on recalling the history and landmark events of St Peter’s club.