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Hornsey Royal British Legion closes due to waning support

PUBLISHED: 14:55 06 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:04 07 September 2010

THE 90-year-old branch of the Royal British Legion in Hornsey, which raises thousands each year during the annual Poppy Appeal, is to fold because of waning support. The winding-down of the branch, closure of the club and sale of the Elder Avenue hall wil

THE 90-year-old branch of the Royal British Legion in Hornsey, which raises thousands each year during the annual Poppy Appeal, is to fold because of waning support.

The winding-down of the branch, closure of the club and sale of the Elder Avenue hall will begin as soon as Sunday after a lack of backing from members and falling revenues at the once-popular bar.

Club administrators were forced to order its closure - despite a petition signed by more than 200 protesters being sent to head office.

The decision to shut up shop is a crushing blow to members who regularly collect more than £30,000 each year in the Crouch End and Hornsey area for the Poppy Appeal - work that will no longer happen now.

Kenneth Kempston, chairman of the group and a member of the club for 34 years, said: "We - my wife, daughter and I - have kept the place open for two years without taking any money or pay or anything.

"The main reason this is happening is there's been a lack of support from members - people are not coming in or spending money over the bar so we can pay the bills.

"I'm totally disgusted with the whole thing - had the members given us more support it would not have gone down the pan.

"In the last two years, we have raised in excess of £60,000 for the Poppy Appeal - that will all be out the window now. I'm gutted."

The Tottenham branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) also closed several years ago following similar problems, leaving Muswell Hill as the only remaining club in the area.

The Hornsey branch - and two bars on site - will close at the end of business on Sunday, leaving scores of members without a place to socialise and congregate. As yet it is undecided when the branch of 100 members will be disbanded, but Mr Kempston said its closure is now a certainty.

The Earl Haig Memorial Hall, which is owned by the group, will be sold with the money kept in trust for three years in case the club chooses to begin again at an alternative premises. Should nothing happen after this time, the money will go into a central RBL fund.

Dennis Mudge, former president and member of 26 years, estimated that he alone had raised up to £60,000 for the Poppy Appeal during his time at the club.

He said: "I'm 85, so I've had a good innings there. I have been working at something or other all the time I have been a member and I'm a bit gutted that it's over."

Local Crouch End councillor Dave Winskill also expressed disappointment, saying: "For nearly everyone who grew up in Crouch End in the 40s and 50s the British Legion has been one of the fixtures in the area.

"They raise a phenomenal amount of money on poppy day and offer a really important support network for a lot of people who would otherwise be alone.

"The news the branch is closing, although perhaps not a surprise, comes as a real blow - this really is a sad day for the area.

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