The first group of Young People arrived at The Briars on September 12th 1969. The original Director Father Paul Klee welcomed one of his classmates Canon Frederick Smythe and the Youth Club from the parish of The Annunciation, Burnt Oak, London, and the scene was set for the next 40 years when thousands of young people would make their way to a centre which centre users themselves often call “The Friendly Place” because of its unique atmosphere.
The story began in the 1960’s after Lady Albermarle produced a report on ‘The training of part time youth leaders.’ Bishop Ellis who was the Bishop of Nottingham at the time saw the problems affecting young people in his Diocese, and commented “Young People had to have the chance of not merely enjoying themselves, but to take part in an apostolate to other Young People,” so he started the Diocesan Youth Service. By the mid sixties there was a central group of people working with the Bishop to define the vision of the Youth Service.
They agreed that residential work would play an important role in the training of Young People, so in 1965 they set a target of five years to find and establish a Residential centre for Young People in the Diocese. Ideas came and went, places were visited and turned down until out of the blue a Mr & Mrs Heymans who were running a Quaker vegetarian guest house at Crich decided to retire and put the house in the hands of Messrs, Maynard of Derby who knew of our problem.
From there on things moved fairly fast. The “Adventure in Faith” was on its way. The house was purchased and after some months of preparation and a lot of voluntary hard labour by local people we opened and began our apostolate to Young People .
In 2019 The Briars celebrated its 50th anniversary and continues in its noble adventure of faith.