This article was written by Jean Archer. It first appeared on the Amersham Socety website.
Jeff Keedle was born in Amersham Old Town, his mother was a descendent of the Carter family which went back many years in the town. His grandmother lived in a cottage that stood at the entrance to St Mary’s Churchyard.
Jeff attended St Mary’s School and the old town was his playground. He enjoyed playing with his contemporaries in the surrounding fields and meadows, along the banks of the Misbourne, and in particular at Crown Farm. On leaving school at the age of fourteen he was in various jobs before joining the Army. Eventually he entered employment with Bucks County Council as a Welfare Officer in the Education Department where he picked up so many truants that he became known as “Keedle, the Kiddie Catcher”.
Jeff had always nursed an avid interest in the welfare of the town and in the 1960s he decided that the time had come for a Youth Club to be formed to serve the youth of the town. He set about raising funds for this purpose – running dances etc.. It was in 1961 that the Club began at the British Legion Hall in Whielden Street, with Jeff as its leader and with the loyal support of the British Legion and his wife Sybil. The ‘61 Club’, as it was called, grew and ten years later in 1971 it took a giant leap forward. The new Clubhouse was built in Barn Meadow. It is not difficult to imagine what this club (the first in the old town of Amersham) has meant in keeping the young people occupied and amused, and with no inconvenience to the surrounding residents.
Jeff had a great rapport with the young and ensured that there was no breaching of rules or misbehaviour. It was in November 1995 that Jeff was awarded the MBE for his services to the Town. Unfortunately he died the following year, and Amersham was the loser. His daughter Denise still has a hand in the running of the Club and they hope to build a new Clubhouse shortly, with the support of well wishers.