Last attempt to save ex-service club from closing

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FRESH hope has been given to an ex-serviceman's club which is under the threat of closure.

A lack of funding and falling membership led to fears the Hampshire Ex-services Club, in Fratton Road, would have to close its doors on New Year's Eve after 36 years.

But generous members have stepped forward and have helped the club to see in the New Year.

Thanks to the donations the club will be staying open until the end of the month.

And a meeting will be taking place on Monday, January 24, to decide its long-term future.

Chairman Malvyn Fryer, 66, said: 'We have had a great response from people wanting to keep the club open.

'We have had six people join our committee, which now brings our total to 10.

'So many people are coming forward with donations, or fundraising ideas, and that has been really encouraging.

'Donations have been ranging from 200 to 1,000 as no-one wants to give up the club.

'We have all agreed to increase the membership fee by 5 and all this should help square the bills for now.

'But we still have a long way to go.

'We've worked out we need around 20,000 to stay open next year.

'We will need to save money and so will be looking at cutting staff hours on the days that aren't productive, unless we can find something else for the club to do to bring in more money.'

The club was founded in 1971 by Doug Smith, 85, and William Doyle and had been set up for ex-servicemen and their families, but now it has been extended so anyone can come along.

At its peak it boasted a membership of around 1,500, but in recent years this has dwindled to 400.

Figures from the trustees also show the venue is running at a loss of almost 8,000 a month.

'We going to try this out until January 24 before we hold another meeting,' added Mr Fryer.

'It will be up to the members whether the club will close, the trustees and committee members can only advise.

'At a meeting in December more than 100 people turned up after learning the fate of the club so it is encouraging.

'We hope this puts the club on the road to recovery.'