Future of Gosport club on the up as it wins reprieve

Committee members (l-r), Pat Skinner, James Saunders and Gerry Taylor. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (14612-4)
Committee members (l-r), Pat Skinner, James Saunders and Gerry Taylor. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (14612-4)
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MEMBERS of a social club are celebrating after being given a chance of survival.

More than 1,000 people signed a petition to save the Iona Club, in Fisher Road, Bridgemary, Gosport.

The Catholic church in Gosport had ordered its closure over safety fears.

Now its 200 members have been given the chance to make a case to the church and could be allowed to buy or lease the land and building.

Steve Wilkins, secretary of the Iona Club, said: ‘It’s a huge turnaround – it started with shutting it down on safety grounds.

‘It’s back on the table. We’ve now got a chance.

‘Some of these people – they’ve hardly ever been anywhere else for a social.’

‘We’ve got our own guys speaking to our builders to get sensible estimates for fixing the back wall.’

‘Offering us the deal and getting is a long way away.

‘It’s not a firm commitment and it’s not going to happen next week.’

Steve added the group’s preferred option is to buy the land off the church.

He said it would mean they could qualify for charitable funding if they owned it.

As reported in The News, the group was told to leave their home of 47 years earlier this year and had to sell off their stock and move out.

The damage at the building was first thought to be caused by harsh winter weather but is now thought to be due to general disrepair.

Its committee has the chance to put forward proposals to the diocese’s trustees after 1,100 people signed a petition to save it.

The group hopes to make it even better by opening it up for community use, similar to the nearby Bridgemary club in Wych Lane.

Councillor Dennis Wright, a member for Bridgemary, said a rejuvenated Iona Club would be great for the area.

He said: ‘It’s a step in the right direction.

‘If that kind of thing can be provided then it will be great for the local community.’

Rev Dr Stephen Morgan, secretary of the trustees for the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, said: ‘There’s no promises or guarantee what the trustees are going to decide in the end.

‘But they do want to hear the details.

‘We’re interested in genuinely hearing what they’ve got to say.’

A decision will be made on September 4 at the trustee’s meeting. Members of the club had pledged loans to save it.