You know what they say about little acorns...and whenever I drive past the Dracaena Centre, I see one of Falmouth’s own “mighty oaks,” writes Mike Truscott.
The centre, which opened in 2008, is the successor to Falmouth Youth Club. That the club survived at all was due in no small measure to a kindly couple who were truly a second mum and dad to thousands of youngsters.
The youth club moved into its purpose-built new home, on the same site, with much celebration in September, 1967.
It was a triumph not least for Harry and Nina Hannaford, its leaders since1958. In that year, the club had to close down for several months while the couple and volunteer helpers restored their rundown premises in Hull’s Lane.
Three years later, the club was on the move again – this time to The Quarry, where it shared temporary accommodation with the former Penryn Secondary Modern School.
Pre-youth club, the Hannafords were prominently involved with the King Charles Mummers and the old Greenbank Gala. Then they founded The Young Falmothians, a group of youngsters who formed the town’s first rock ‘n’ roll group and staged popular shows for charity.
In the absence of suitable premises, the Hannafords transformed their old house at the top of Jacob’s Ladder into a lively venue for rehearsals and preparations, with up to 50 youngsters at a time cramming into it.
Former members would write from all over the world with envelopes bearing the word “Hannaford” at the top of a ladder, with “Falmouth, Cornwall” at the bottom of it!
And throughout it all, Harry and Nina were certain of one thing: “There are no bad youngsters in the world, just youngsters who need help.”