RBL club wants community to use it to prevent closure

Harwell Royal British Legion club chairman Mark Fysh is leading a drive to recruit more members who have no connection to the forces. Picture: OX53732 Ric Mellis

Harwell Royal British Legion club chairman Mark Fysh is leading a drive to recruit more members who have no connection to the forces. Picture: OX53732 Ric Mellis Buy this photo

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

A VILLAGE Royal British Legion club wants to change its image and attract ordinary villagers as it prepares to mark its 25th birthday.

The Harwell RBL club in Westfield was built in September 1987 after a fundraising effort from members.

Club chairman Mark Fysh said: “It’s brilliant that something that was built by the people of Harwell has lasted so long, and I want to make sure it stays that way and is used by the people that it was meant for.”

He added: “We do need to change the image as the criteria has changed – you don’t have to be forces personnel to be a member.

“We want to dispel the myth that RBL clubs are just drinking dens for old service personnel.”

To attract people in the area, the club is holding a beer festival in October and planning a New Year’s Eve party.

I don’t want to see the club shut. Every single brick was paid for by money raised by the members themselves

Mark Fysh, Harwell RBL club chairman

Mr Fysh said the club was not struggling, adding: “You are talking about a business that is still going but we want the community to use it.”

“I don’t want to see the club shut. Every single brick was paid for by money raised by the members themselves.

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“It was built by the people for the people.”

 

There are currently about 350 members who pay the £20 annual fee.

The club also has darts and snooker teams, hosts live entertainment every Saturday evening and is also open for weddings and funerals.

A reception after the funeral of Lance Corporal Michael Foley was held at the club in April.

Lc Cpl Foley, 25, died when he was shot by a rogue Afghan soldier while he stood guard at the British base in Lashkar Gar, Helmand Province.

Kate Beswick, vice chairman of Harwell Parish Council, said: “The problem is – and it’s probably the same with British Legions everywhere – that generation that wanted to be together has now dwindled.”

Neil Crook, chairman of the White Horse branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “These working men clubs and Royal British Legion clubs have this image problem where people think they are something they are not.

“It’s up to the manager to sell the club that it’s open to everybody. Once the numbers start coming through the door they have a good chance of becoming a community facility.”

Comments (1)

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8:54am Sat 18 Aug 12

Myron Blatz says...

Whether run as a British Legion or just a 'social' club, a beer festival and new year's eve party are not the best choice of events to try to dispel the 'drinking den' image of the club and make it more atractive to a wider section of Harwell's community. Over the years since it began, the Royal British Legion has done sterling work across the country, helping not just ex-servicemen and women and their families, but also communities at-large. However, the concept of Legion-specific clubs - as opposed to the role of the Legion itself - has become out-dated and unwanted by the majority of people over the years, in the same way that working men's clubs and party-political social clubs have also declined in recent years.
Whether run as a British Legion or just a 'social' club, a beer festival and new year's eve party are not the best choice of events to try to dispel the 'drinking den' image of the club and make it more atractive to a wider section of Harwell's community. Over the years since it began, the Royal British Legion has done sterling work across the country, helping not just ex-servicemen and women and their families, but also communities at-large. However, the concept of Legion-specific clubs - as opposed to the role of the Legion itself - has become out-dated and unwanted by the majority of people over the years, in the same way that working men's clubs and party-political social clubs have also declined in recent years. Myron Blatz
  • Score: -1

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