Ilford’s RAF Association is ‘struggling’ but hopes for future remain with live music nights

Another club set up for ex-servicemen and their families in the 1940s could be forced to close in Ilford, taking away a “safe place” for older residents to socialise.

The Ilford branch of the Royal Air Forces Association, in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, has been “struggling” financially for a number of years but is hoping to remain open by organising live music nights and encouraging community groups to hold events there.

Cllr Barbara White, who has been involved in the branch for around 30 years, said: “I am determined to keep it going, but it is very difficult for clubs like this at the moment.

“We have been struggling for a few years and many other clubs for ex-servicemen have already closed nearby.”

The Ilford branch of the Royal British Legion Club, Durban Road, Seven Kings, was forced to close in September due to a lack of support and falling membership.

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Cllr White said: “We have no paid staff so volunteers must work hard to keep it going and organising entertainment seems to be the best way. Many of are members are at an age where they no longer want to go out.

“It is very important to keep places like this going. It acts as a safe place for women in their 70s to walk into, have a drink and socialise. Many want to be out and about but would not be happy visiting a pub in Ilford alone.”

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The club, which holds a jazz night every Thursday, is also planning to invite a stand-up comedian to perform in between bands.

The Redbridge Green Fair Live Music Club also hold a monthly event at the club and the next one will be held tomorrow.

Chairman of the Barkingside branch of Royal British Legion, John Coombes, said: “Unfortunately clubs like this are dying out, and only the big clubs are likely to survive in the future.

“It is an obvious problem that members are dying and not enough people are joining and using the clubs. It seems to be the policy that clubs might as well be sold for their land, which is very sad.”

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