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Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone Announces Leadership Change

Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone has announced that Rt Hon Jack Straw will be stepping down as Chair of the organisation, with the position to be taken up by local businessman, regeneration leader and Trustee for Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone, Wayne Wild.

Serving as Honorary President since its inception, Mr Straw became Chair of Blackburn Youth Zone on retiring from the House in 2015, having served as MP for Blackburn since 1979. Between 1997 and 2010, Mr Straw also served as Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

Andrew Graham MBE, founder and trustee of Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone, expressed his gratitude for Mr Straw’s service and contribution to the organisation.

 He said: “We are immensely grateful for Jack’s unwavering commitment and invaluable contribution to Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone. His leadership has been a guiding force for us, and his impact will continue to be felt in the years to come.”

Looking forward, Mr Graham MBE expressed his confidence in the incoming Chair, saying: “We are excited to welcome Wayne Wild to his new role. Wayne brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to our mission. We believe under Wayne’s leadership, Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone will continue to thrive and make a positive impact on the lives of young people in our community.”

Blackburn-born Mr Wild is the former Group Commercial Director of WEC Group, a Darwen-based business,  which he helped steer to a national group of 19 companies, turning over £100m per year and employing 1,000 people. He is also Chair of the Darwen Town Deal, a £110-million investment plan to stimulate internal economic growth in the area.

On taking on his new role, Mr Wild said: “As a born and bred Blackburn-er and passionate Trustee of Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zones, I could not be more honoured to be taking on the role of Chair, and especially to be succeeding Jack, whose contribution to the Youth Zone since its inception is immeasurable.

“As a charity dedicated to young people, Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone provides over sixty hours of services when schools are closed. With over 4,500 members benefiting, our provision takes place at a state-of-the-art centre in Blackburn, our satellite site in Darwen and within the community. Core services are open for ages five to 19, and we also have dedicated SEND and Employability services open to young adults up to the age of 25.

“This is why it is important that, as a community, we ensure that we come together to invest and secure the future for Blackburn and Darwen’s young people.

“It takes a minimum of £2.2 million every year to keep our doors open for thousands of young people, and we pride ourselves on working with our patrons and supporters to help bridge the gap between young people and local businesses to support them through employability, education, volunteering and employee engagement.

“We have a responsibility to help support and nurture the young people of this community. Now more than ever, young people need our understanding, guidance and knowledge to help give them the tools needed to build a brighter future.”

Rt Hon Jack Straw said:

‘It’s been such a privilege to chair the Youth Zone for the past eight and a half years. It’s a brilliant organisation now serving 1,200 youngsters (and more) each week. This is the right time for me to step down from the Chair (though I shall remain a Trustee) – and I can think of no one better than Wayne Wild to lead from now on. He’s an extraordinary dynamo, with immense energy who’s already transformed youth services in Darwen. He will have my unwavering support’.

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