Over the nearly 80 years of the Brady Clubs history in the East End, many leaders were involved in the clubs, and in addition many people, often ex-members, gave their time to work unpaid in the Clubs as Managers.
There were many loved club leaders and managers. We have chosen to pay tribute to two characters, without whom Brady Boys’ and Girls’ Club would not have provided the foundation for so many East End Jewish boys and girls to flourish.
Yogi Mayer MBE
(Paul) Yogi Mayer grew up in Pre-War Germany, and was involved in the German-Jewish youth movement. He was a promising athlete, teacher and youth leader and attended the 1936 Olympic Training Camp for Jewish athletes but as a Jew was not selected to compete in the Olympic Games.
He escaped Nazi Germany, with his wife and baby son, in April 1939 to the UK. He enlisted to the British army and served in the Special Operations Executive (SOE).
After the war he was appointed leader of the Primrose Club for Young Boys and Girls (‘The Boys’), survivors of the concentration camps. Yogi demonstrated exceptional ability to work with these young people, helping them recognise that the survival skills they had been forced to develop could help them succeed and achieve in whatever field they chose.
In 1951 Yogi was appointed Club Leader at Brady. He initiated the ‘twinning’ of Brady Boys and Girls Clubs in Hanbury Street and as Youth Director created an environment where members were encouraged to participate in sport, art and social activities and to relish weekends away with their Brady family at Skeet Hill House. Each Summer he led camping holidays for about 200 members in Britain, and introduced older members to mountain activity holidays in Europe.
Yogi was involved with setting up The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, and Brady Boys and Girls were among the early qualifiers of the Gold Award.
Hundreds of young people enjoyed the ‘glory days’ at Brady. 60 years later many members talk of the impact and influence the Club, and Yogi in particular, had in helping them develop lifelong friendships, self-confidence and responsibility, all of which set the foundation for their adult lives.
Yogi left Brady in 1965 and was appointed Youth Officer for Islington, where he continued and extended the range of provision for young people.
On ‘retirement’ he continued to further develop his role in training youth workers and served as a Governor at Islington College.
Yogi’s lifelong contribution was recognised in 1997 when he was awarded an MBE for his services to young people.
In 1998 aged 86, Yogi was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Pottsdam, for ‘his scientific, journalistic and pedagogic achievements’.
Yogi’s book ‘Jews and the Olympic Games – Sport a Springboard for Minorities’ was published in 2004, documenting his personal experience and the unique record of achievements of Jewish sportsmen and women at Olympic level. Yogi completed this work aged 92.