Gillingham RBL needs your help

The Gillingham Royal British Legion Club needs your help if it is to avoid closure on 30 June.

As reported in today’s Medway Messenger, the club is in financial difficulty and needs your support to keep going.

The club, in Livingstone Road, has been running for 74 years, but has hit hard times in recent years with the difficult financial climate keeping people away.

Now they need to find £40,000 to stay open – otherwise their fundraising efforts for the annual Poppy Appeal will be put in jeopardy.

Jayne Mellor-Mackay, who has been a member for six years, told the Medway Messenger “Last year we raised £50,000 for the Poppy Appeal and we won’t be able to do that next year if we don’t have this club.”

The club is also popular with supporters of Gillingham Football Club, who provide a vital boost on match days before taking the short walk to Priestfield Stadium. Indeed such was the club’s popularity when the Gills faced AFC Wimbledon at the end of the season, the club was forced to turn people away because it had reached capacity.

The club has a special place in my heart – dare I say more so than the recently closed RAFA Club. I have been a member of both the club and branch since I was 18, but I have been a supporter for far longer.

My membership was proposed (at his insistence) by my (now late) grandfather, a Life Vice President of the branch. On that sad day in March 2010, the club openly welcomed our family and friends in to the club for his wake and for the service the branch provided the Standard which will shortly be my duty to bear.

I have volunteered, through my membership of the Air Cadets and since of my own accord, to raise funds for the Poppy Appeal every year since I was 13 (bar 2011 when I was living in Birmingham) and I have been planning since November to take on a bigger role within the local Poppy Appeal.

It will be a sad and heartbreaking day if the club is forced to close and I would add my voice to those echoing around at the moment to support the club.

In particular, I would strongly urge all current club members to attend the forthcoming EGM to discuss the club’s future and anyone else who wants to support the club should contact them directly.

The number of veterans clubs in Medway has dwindled at an alarming rate. It would be a major blow to Gillingham and to Medway to lose the Gillingham Royal British Legion Club as well.

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