Longridge club severs Royal British Legion links

The bowling green in front of Longridge Royal British Legion Club and the Sports and Social Club.
The bowling green in front of Longridge Royal British Legion Club and the Sports and Social Club.

Longridge’s Royal British Legion Club is set to sever its links with The Royal British Legion after more than 70 years in the town.

A unanimous vote was made to change the struggling club’s name to Longridge Sports and Social Club – although existing club activities will continue.

It is very sad. It isn’t something the committee took lightly

Club secretary Derek Helm

Club secretary Derek Helm said the committee believed there might have been opposition to ending the association, but the vote in favour of changing it to Longridge Sports and Social Club was carried unanimously.

The club has been battling for financial survival in recent years and has had to sell off its car park and games room for housing development. Mr Helm says they are hoping the name change will bring with it a boost in membership and a brighter future.

Built in the 1930s by ex-servicemen of the First World War, over the years the club has been home to the Longridge Branch of The Royal British Legion and also the Women’s Section and the centre of all Legion activities.

But, said Mr Helm, the male-run Longridge branch folded five years ago.

The Women’s Section, which has also struggled in recent years, would continue at least until next July, he said.

He describes the club’s decision to break away from The Royal British Legion as “very disappointing.”

Under Legion rules, when someone joins The Royal British Legion, they automatically become a member of all the UK’s clubs which bear the Legion name. But not one penny of the membership fee goes to the clubs, which must finance themselves.

“If everything goes ahead, membership will be £5 as opposed to £16, of which the club got nothing because it went to London,” said Mr Helm. “It is very sad. It isn’t something the committee took lightly, but because we need funds to continue we have got to think of the club.

“Many clubs are shutting down elsewhere. Leyland has closed and some in Yorkshire recently.”

The club currently has around 150 members.

He added that the Remembrance parade and other related activities would still be carried out from the club.

The club’s new status could be in operation by the new year, once the new licence has been applied for.

Mr Helm said the club – once Longridge’s most popular – has a good, supportive committee and stewardess, with regular weekly events such as Longridge Folk Club, line dancing, a jive night, bingo and the “very strong” bowling section.

A spokesperson for The Royal British Legion said: “Legion Clubs are run entirely separately from The Royal British Legion’s branches and the charity’s welfare work.

“The Legion has no responsibility for the management of the clubs which are run as businesses.”