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RBL club wants community to use it to prevent closure
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 themselvesMark 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.
“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.”