Almost one year on from the threat of imminent closure, Ellon’s Royal British Legion branch has turned around its fortunes.
In January, the fate of the 50-year-old chapter hung in the balance, having run at a loss financially for some time.
About 300 members backed calls at an extraordinary general meeting to give it another 12 months to turn itself around – and the club has done just that.
A new management team was put in place after that meeting with a view to straightening out the accounts, making the club sustainable and increasing footfall at its Victoria Hall home.
Douglas Watson, who was elected chairman in January, said that despite being closed for most of the year due to the coronavirus lockdown, the club has now been pulled back from the brink and he is now “optimistic” about its futures.
“We have had a new committee in place since January and have stabilised the finances of the legion,” he said.
“When circumstances allow with the restrictions, we will be able to open in a far stronger position than we were at the start of the year.
“In the meantime, during the closure, we have been carrying out some refurbishments both outside and inside the building.
“The committee is very confident we have put the legion back on a sound economic footing and we are quite certain it is in no danger of closing now – as it was in January.”
The club did reopen its doors in July before being forced to close again at the end of October when the tier system came into place.
“We couldn’t sell alcohol in the building and when we can’t do that it’s not viable to open,” Mr Watson said.
“Lockdown has been a difficult time for us, as it has been for everyone, but we made good progress before then as had a good couple of months to get the finances into a stable position.
“We were optimistic and started planning events and entertainment for April and when restrictions ease we’ll pick up the threads again.”
Until then, the club’s 600-plus membership is being asked to pay their annual fees – due this month – for when its facilities, a bar, functions space and sports areas do reopen.
Mr Watson added: “We understand that people haven’t been able to use their memberships because we’ve been closed, but we need to remind people we are still here and still need their support through this difficult period.
“Legion Scotland is a charity that depends upon membership as well as donations.
“It is important to remember that part of the fee members pay in Ellon goes to the headquarters in Edinburgh and is used to support ex-service personnel and their families.”
Members can pop an envelope with their details and fee through the Ellon Legion letterbox or pay by bank transfer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who want to pay in person can do so at the club between 1pm and 5pm on Saturday, November 21 and Sunday, November 22.
Social distancing and a one way system will be in operation.