Former ball boys celebrate 70 years of Barnardo’s at Wimbledon

Michael Hindel PNL-160629-101937001
Michael Hindel PNL-160629-101937001

As Wimbledon gets underway, a children’s charity is celebrating 70 years since it began organising the tennis championship’s ball boys.

For 20 years from 1946, all the Wimbledon ball boys came from one of Barnardo’s residential schools.

Former Barnardo's ball boys  in 1956 PNL-160629-102436001

Former Barnardo's ball boys in 1956 PNL-160629-102436001

During that time, Michael Hindel volunteered for the role. Now living in Wilstead aged 69, he said the first year he was on the outside courts, the second year he was on court one, and the third on Centre Court.

He said: “The atmosphere was fantastic.

“We used to sell on the programmes left on the seats, mainly to Americans. Sometimes players would sign a ball at the end of the match and give it to us and we’d sell that on too.

“On Centre Court you would get to meet the Queen when she walked through the ball boy line up to meet the winners. She would ask us how we were and if we’d enjoyed ourselves.”

Michael was at Barnardo’s Goldings school, in Hertfordshire, between the ages of 14 to 17 where he learnt to be a painter and decorator.

Being a ball boy was a prized role that had a positive impact on the young residents’ lives and contributed towards the success of The Championships. Only one third of the schools’ students aged 14 to 18 became ball boys, so competition to be selected was fierce.

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