It’s all about the surroundings at YMCA Lakeside

Ten years in the making, the new YMCA Lakeside facilities at Newby Bridge on the shore of Lake Windermere are a stunning achievement in natural design. Offering hostel-style accommodation for schools and youth groups, the new School & Youth building provides state-of-the-art facilities including 250 beds, a large dining room, classrooms and drying rooms for outdoor gear, while boasting spectacular views of the lake and surrounding area.

AJ Products was asked to supply furniture for the new building that would be in keeping with the overall look and feel of the campus. It was important that the materials chosen for the furniture complemented the materials used within the building construction as well as the beauty of the unique surroundings. At AJ, we know that sometimes the interior décor should be the talking point and sometimes it should play a supporting role. That’s why we were able to help YMCA Lakeside find the right balance.


The client was clear from the outset that the lake itself was the star of the show. The building had been designed using natural materials specifically to fit in with its surroundings. The client was unequivocal that how the furniture looked was equally important to how well it stood up to heavy daily use. There was no doubt that the products supplied had to fit with the look of the new building, but they also had to be affordable and hardwearing – no mean feat!

Additionally, delivery would also need to be coordinated carefully with the building contractors to ensure the products arrived in good time but not before the rooms were ready to be furnished.


We knew it would be key to provide products that were all in keeping with the location, the building and the materials, so two members of the AJ team went to visit the site in the Lake District in February 2019 to ensure we fully understood the requirements. The biggest part of the project entrusted to AJ was the chairs. More than 300 chairs were needed for various rooms in the building including the dining room and classrooms. The chairs supplied have an all wooden construction to match the exterior materials used for the build with a durability and sturdiness that will withstand continuous use in a busy communal area.

YMCA Lakeside also needed a number of other essentials to complete their rooms. Thanks to AJ’s extensive range, we were able to help them with lots of other necessities including reception desk chairs, folding tables for the rooms to be used as classrooms or group rooms, bins, whiteboards, wall clocks and even personalised entrance mats.

Once the final choice was made, AJ Products ensured that all deliveries were scheduled to be made within three days of each other, allowing the YMCA team to work around the onsite contractors and complete the installation in time for their first guests. We visited the site again following the deliveries in early June to ensure the customer was totally satisfied with their product selection.


In August 2019, AJ Products was invited to the official opening of the new facility. The transformation was incredible. The dining room with its large panoramic views of the lake and trees is the focal point of the building and the wooden dining chairs supplied fit in perfectly. The other furniture supplied is equally important and has surpassed the YMCA’s expectations. Further orders have already followed.

Steve Scott, Senior Manager of Outdoor Education at YMCA Lakeside was happy to share his thoughts. "It has been a pleasure working with the team from AJ Products. Throughout the development of our project the team has been on hand to help us select from a broad range of applicable products and, in many cases, suggest items we hadn’t even considered!"

He continued: "It was great to be able to fire over emails with requests and questions and to receive rapid responses with suggestions and quotes. This really helped us stay on budget, which as a charity was a huge influencing factor. We were not the easiest of clients, not really knowing what we needed but knowing we have a very tight budget with which to work. The team was very understanding and able to help us balance value and quality."

"We are very proud of our new building and the products selected from AJ Products really compliment the design. They have really helped us bring our development from the drawing board to reality."

"Being part of a wider network of YMCAs, I have already recommended the services of AJ Products to colleagues across the organisation and have full faith that the team at AJ Products will be able to support the work of the YMCA throughout the country," said Steve.

We at AJ Products would like to say that it’s been a pleasure working with Steve and his colleagues. We hope to be able to repeat this success at other YMCA projects in the future.

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