Club members vow to fight to save their Gosport hall

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‘WE will not give up the fight for our club’. That was the defiant message as more than 100 people turned out to a public meeting in a show of support for the Iona Club.

As reported, the club’s hall in Fisher Road, Bridgemary, was damaged during winter storms.

DEFIANT Steve Wilkins speaking at the meeting about the Iona club last night. Picture: Allan Hutchings (14884-618)

DEFIANT Steve Wilkins speaking at the meeting about the Iona club last night. Picture: Allan Hutchings (14884-618)

The committee received a letter from Father Peter Glas, of St Mary’s Church – which is part of the Catholic diocese that owns the building – to say the club would be closing immediately as it was no longer safe.

The doors were closed, locks were changed and ever since the 200-strong membership has been desperate to get back.

Steve Wilkins, a committee member, gave a presentation to the meeting at Bridgemary, Rowner and Woodcot Community Centre and his comments were greeted with loud applause.

He said: ‘You people turning up is a visual display to the diocese that we want our club back.

‘We might be homeless at this moment but there is no intention to dissolve the club.

‘We will not give up the fight until all options have been investigated and exhausted.’

Rev Dr Stephen Morgan, secretary of the trustees for the diocese, said: ‘Father Peter Glas should not have written the letter. He’s not in a position to evict you from the Iona Hall.

‘The only people who can make this decision are the diocesan trustees. The diocesan trustees have not made such a decision.’

He said no decisions can be made until a survey is received from structural engineers.

Dr Morgan added: ‘We will not be making any decisions without sharing the options with you and listening to your views on them.’

Terence Byrnes, 72, a member for 37 years, pledged a £5,000 loan. He said: ‘It’s a wonderful club.’