Breathing new life into club

Cyril and Martin Dunn at the welfare centre, holding an FC Easington football shirt.
Cyril and Martin Dunn at the welfare centre, holding an FC Easington football shirt.
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MARTIN Dunn is about to change the face of a historic social club – and follow in the footsteps of his much-respected grandfather.

He is just days away from turning 21 – and probably the youngest person ever to take a role on the management committee at Easington Social Welfare Centre.

For Martin, the position is a great honour as his late grandfather Cyril Dunn was instrumental in bringing the 77-year-old former miner’s hall back into use.

Club secretary Cyril, who joined the committee in his mid-40s, famously appeared on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire when marketing tycoon Carl Hopkins went undercover before handing over £12,000 to help revamp the community venue.

Sadly, Hartlepool-born Cyril, who spent the past 20 years helping to revive the centre, died of heart failure in July.

Now determined grandson Martin wants to continue his grandfather’s legacy and pump new blood into the Seaside Lane-based club.

The sports journalism student at Sunderland University, whose earliest memory is as a five-year-old being taught to play pool by his granddad at the centre, said: “I’m so proud to be part of what my granddad has built up and loved so much.

“Granddad asked me to join when I turned 18, but I thought I would do it when I got time.

“But since he passed away it’s a case of ‘I need to keep the place going’.

“The youngest member on the committee was 52.

“When I said I was going to do it, they were over the moon, it shows younger people want to keep the centre open.”

Now Martin, who lives in Whitehouse Court, in Easington Village, with his parents Michael, a 46-year-old gas engineer, Nora, 47, and 16-year-old brother James, is helping to try to attract more families to the venue, which has been earmarked for a £1.7m revamp.

As well as setting up a new football team, called FC Easington, from the club, he has also been involved in a refurbishment of its bar.

It has been renamed Cyril’s Bar, following a revamp including new furniture and fittings and a lick of paint, which has been overseen by committee chairman Ian Foster and trustee Paul Hewitson.

Taking pride of place on the bar’s walls is a framed picture of Cyril, alongside a framed letter written from the club to Cyril posthumously thanking him for all he has done at the venue, as well as a yet-to-be-installed plaque.

Martin said: “It’s all about getting younger people in.

“We’ve made it all new.

“It’s always been a family place, my family especially has been close to it.

“Now we need younger people in the centre doing things instead of drinking on the streets.”

The venue also has various other activities for young people, including table tennis and boxing and more bands nights are being organised.

Cyril’s wife, Anne, 70, said: “I’m very proud that Martin is following in his granddad’s footsteps.

“He has always been interested in the committee but with what happened to his granddad, he said ‘gran, I’m going to go on the committee if they will have us’.”

Centre manager Geoff Price said: “His granddad would have been really proud and he would have wanted Martin to do as good a job as he did.”