‘The Empire Strikes Back’ – in Maghull

Celebrating 15 years and 180 monthly meetings, the Maghull Young Adults Social Club (MYASC) were delighted to welcome a number of Star Wars characters from ‘Order 66’ and the ‘Mint Imperials’, who turned up to the birthday party.

Left: Pictured from left to right, are: Mike Penn, Viv Penn and Jonathan Penn. Right: Sandy (left) and Paul, the DJ’s.

Left: Pictured from left to right, are: Mike Penn, Viv Penn and Jonathan Penn. Right: Sandy (left) and Paul, the DJ’s.

In January whilst attending a Burns Night organised by Abercrombie Lodge No 3699, Phil Marshall, a former DJ at the club and still a regular attender, got chatting to Lee Craig, an Abercrombie lodge member. Lee told Phil that he was a member of a Star Wars Appreciation Society who dressed as Star Wars characters and gave up their spare time attending charity events or any other event or fundraiser, where they would be welcomed. When Phil told him about MYASC and their forthcoming milestone, Lee immediately agreed to contact some other members who he thought might be available on the night, to ‘Storm troop’ into the club to entertain and pose for photos. So, on the night, to the theme tune of the Star Wars movies, they emerged onto the dance floor to the cries of delight and applause of the audience. A total shock, as it was a complete surprise and closely guarded secret.

The club, run by the parents of Jonathan Penn, Viv and Mike, was the brainchild of Viv and her friend Pat. The concept was to provide a safe, friendly environment for young adults 18 – 30 years old with special needs, learning difficulties or disabilities of any nature. As her son, Jonny, was approaching a time when he wanted to socialise like any other teenager, Viv and Mike were worried because of his vulnerability and that of his friends. They set about finding a suitable venue and DJ and contacted various care groups to spread the word. It was on the last Friday of April 2002 that they held their first social night, not knowing how successful it would turn out to be.

Left: the delighted audience surround the characters. Right: Pictured from left to right, are: Daniel, Oliver and Lee disguised as, the two Jawas and Boba Fett.

Left: the delighted audience surround the characters. Right: Pictured from left to right, are: Daniel, Oliver and Lee disguised as, the two Jawas and Boba Fett.

Viv keeps a note of names and phone numbers and each month rings the members or their carers to remind them of the forthcoming event. Over the fifteen years that they have met, firstly in St Georges Social Club, Maghull, but for the last four years have met at the local British Legion, who delight in welcoming them each month. There has also been a number of different DJ’s providing the entertainment. The current DJ’s, Paul and Sandie are able to provide great dancing music and fulfil any request thanks to the internet.

Ben Ross.

Ben Ross.

Membership to the club is open to anyone in the area who is looking for a place to socialise and enjoy the company of other likeminded young people and carers are also welcome. Admission is just £1 to members. The running costs of the club, including room hire, occasional buffets, raffle prizes and music are all mainly covered by donations from various benefactors, including The Maghull Art Society, Maghull and Aughton Rotary Club and over recent years, an annual donation from Harmonic Lodge No 216, as a number of their members socialise with Mike.

One particular long-time member is Ben Cross who in the early days was very withdrawn and found it difficult to mix. However, membership of the club has made a huge difference. Ben now works full time in IT after gaining both an undergraduate, honours then a Master’s Degree. Ben also writes poetry and runs marathons. His last five kilometre run raised the magnificent sum of £985 which he generously donated to the club.

The birthday celebration evening was a great success. A sumptuous buffet, great music and dancing. There were also lots of photos taken with the characters. A dancing competition meant that some prizes of Star Wars videos were awarded to lucky members. Mike and Viv would like to record a message of thanks to Lee and his Star Wars characters as well as all other volunteers who turn up every month. They hope to continue for many years to come. So thanks again to Darth Vader, Neil Morrison, Storm Trooper, Steven Treerrow and his son Sam, Boba Fett, Lee Craig and his two sons, Daniel and Oliver who dressed as Jawas, they left behind many happy memories for the members of MYASC. The next outing for Lee and his friends is on Star Wars Day, May 4 when they will visit Clair House Children’s Hospice to again bring happiness to fans of the series which this year is 40 years on from the very first adventure.

Article and photos by Phil Marshall.

Pictured from left to right, are: Boba Fett, Jawa, a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader.

Pictured from left to right, are: Boba Fett, Jawa, a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader.