Barnardo’s ball boys take a trip back to Wimbledon to mark anniversary

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A former Barnardo’s pupil returned to Wimbledon almost 60 years after being a ball boy as part of the charity’s anniversary celebrations.

Barnardo’s children’s charity is celebrating 70 years since beginning its special partnership with the All England Lawn Tennis Club and Wimbledon.

For twenty years from 1946, all the Wimbledon ball boys came from one of Barnardo’s residential schools in Hertfordshire where they learnt a valuable trade to help get them into work.

Being a ball boy was a prized role and as only one third of the school’s students aged 14 to 18 became ball boys, competition was fierce.

To celebrate this partnership during Barnardo’s 150th year, some of the former ball boys returned to Wimbledon to share memories and swap anecdotes about champions gone by, roaring crowds, and the strawberries and cream.

They also met today’s ball boys and girls as they trained for this year’s Championships and compared notes.

Former ball boy Chris Cachrimanis, 74, from Battle, said: “It was great being a ball boy. We were paid £2.10 shillings and could watch centre court matches for free.

“In 1958/59 I was a ball boy for one of the longest matches ever. We ran out of balls and had to run off court to get more boxes of balls. I had a great time as a ball boy and was really excited to be a part of Wimbledon.”

Mr Cachrimanis grew up in a small village in Southern Greece with his three older brothers and sisters. His home had been blazed in the Second World War, and both his parents died.

He was one of 15 Greek children chosen to start a new life in England. Aged 13, he was sent to Barnardo’s residential Goldings school where he learnt sheet metal work as a trade.

He is now a successful businessman and runs his own roofing company. He is happily married and has four children and five grandchildren and regularly keeps in touch with his family in Greece.

Coincidentally, his daughter’s great great grandfather was a winner at Wimbledon in 1878.

Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “Being ball boys for 20 years was an opportunity for some Barnardo’s students to be part of something truly special and inspirational.”

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