Belfast Telegraph

Last post for Legion club

Ex-service personnel mourn loss as venue shuts after 80 years

By Chris Kilpatrick

A Royal British Legion club has shut its doors after more than 80 years as it struggled to operate in the tough economic climate.

There was widespread sadness throughout Coleraine yesterday following the announcement the club had closed just weeks before Remembrance Sunday.

It has provided a meeting place for military personnel and war veterans over the decades.

Around 400 ex-servicemen and women were members at the time of its demise.

Now, with Remembrance Sunday looming, they have been dealt the blow of losing their favourite socialising spot.

But the harsh economic climate, combined with a dwindling membership and poor attendance, the custodians of the British Legion club said it was no longer financially viable.

Club secretary John Clanachan confirmed the closure, which was decided upon at a committee meeting.

“Some people think we have been a bit rash but the club is not solvent,” he said.

“The club will be closed for the forseeable future.

“Things may happen in the future, you always hope.”

In July the Belfast Telegraph revealed how the club faced going to the wall unless membership and income could be boosted.

Just six years ago membership was almost double its recent levels, with 700 people signed up with the local Legion club.

Following a meeting of members at the time, the club was granted a reprieve in the hope locals would dig deep to safeguard its future.

But those hopes were dashed on Wednesday evening with the announcement of the winding up of the venue.

The Royal British Legion building which houses the social club will remain open, and the Legion will continue to operate in other areas.

The club had taken steps in an attempt to cut costs, including closing facilities during the week, but it continued to struggle to make ends meet.

It is understood that all members were contacted by post recently requesting they each pledge £10 to the club, but the response was poor.

Davy Boyle, an ex-serviceman who has been a member of the club for 30 years, said the news was a blow for Coleraine.

“It’s very said,” the 59-year-old said.

“It just didn’t appeal to younger people, unfortunately.

“I, like many, am very sorry to see it go.”

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