Jim Corben 1925 – 2017
When I took over responsibility for Young Devon 20 years ago one of the first people I met formally was Jim; who had already been a Trustee with us for 10 years. My predecessor, Ian Campbell had given me a briefing about Jim; his history in being the vice-principle at the National College for Youth Work in Manchester, as well as his role as a principle youth officer for several Local Authorities, but mostly about his role in being a Trustee at Young Devon, and his knowledge, experience and skills – but mostly his enthusiasm!
Being in mind when I first met with Jim he was already in his mid-seventies so my initial thoughts were that he may stay involved for a couple more years and then retire completely!
How wrong I was – up until last year never a week would go by without Jim contributing in some way to the work of the Charity; whether emailing me a draft letter he was wanting to send locally or nationally about youth work, youth services, new funding, cuts in funding, training and development; or rolling up his sleeves and drafting a funding bid to a Charitable Trust. To say he was prolific would be an understatement!!!
I will never forget the time, in 1999 when the Government launched a programme called Millennium Volunteering, and we had decided it was something we should go for. Usually, as a local charity we were comfortable with submitting applications for £40-50,000, and this was going to be the same. We wrote the application, built the budget, and were getting ready to send when Jim said to me that he had heard through the grapevine that they were looking to potentially award significantly larger grants than £50,000, and calmly suggested that all we needed to do was put an extra “0” on the budget and add in a few more posts and see how we got on. Three months later we were told that had been successful in securing £500,000!!!
This vote of confidence in an organisation such as our allowed to recalibrate ourselves and so acted as a catalyst for the charity to go on and secure many more large grants and contracts that previously had never gone to County organisations such as ourselves.
Jim will be greatly missed not just by me and people who knew him, but also those thousands of young people who need individuals like Jim championing their need for high quality and well-resourced youth workers helping them grow and flourish throughout their adolescents into adulthood.
Tim Tod – CEO Young Devon (April 1997 – January 2017)