MEMBERS of a social club in Gosport are devastated after losing their building which has been part of the community for nearly half a century.
The Iona Club’s committee has even set aside cash to pay for repairs to the storm-damaged building, in Fisher Road, Bridgemary.
But as tenants, they’ve been told they cannot pay for any work and St Mary’s Church, which owns the clubhouse, says it is not cost-effective to repair it.
James Saunders volunteers as a barman at the club, which is next to St Columba’s Roman Catholic Church, and was built 47 years ago.
He said: ‘It’s leaving quite a few members high and dry.
‘It’s been going a long time and it’s just ended.
‘It’s really important to the community and the area. I’m gutted, a lot of people volunteer there. We want it back.’
The committee met on Monday last week after getting a letter saying the clubhouse would be closed.
One wall at the end of the timber-built club is loose and another wall is sticking out at an angle. Some of the ceiling trusses are bowing.
The damage comes as heavy wind and rain hit the area.
Committee member Cathy Wake said the club, which has about 200 members, had to sell off around £3,000 of stock cheaply as they had little notice the building was going to shut.
She said: ‘Everything has happened so quick.
‘It’s just a huge loss for the area. We were a thriving club.
‘There’s a lot of history in the place. We’ve also put a lot of money into keeping that building. We’ve redecorated it all and done running repairs.
‘It’s a shame that another community club has been taken away from the area.’
She added the group had done repairs itself to try to save the church money.
The club has now got help from the Bridgemary, Rowner and Woodcot Community Association, in Wych Lane.
It is honouring people’s membership and will host the Iona Club’s annual general meeting on March 24 at 8pm.
Father Peter Glas, from St Mary’s Church, in High Street, said: ‘It’s beyond repair, it’s an old building. We just cannot do anything.’
‘It wasn’t a very strong building because it’s past its time. It was unsafe so it had to be evacuated.’
Doug Savege, administrator in the parish, added the club building was built in 1967 and was supposed to have a life-span of just 25 years.
‘We don’t see it as a prudent move to invest in a building that is so far past its expected life-span,’ he said.