Legion branch closure fears

President of the Lytham branch of the British Legion, Jim McCloskey, is calling for new members or they will be forced to close.
President of the Lytham branch of the British Legion, Jim McCloskey, is calling for new members or they will be forced to close.

THE Royal British Legion’s presence in Lytham and Warton is facing an uncertain future.

The joint branch covering the two areas is threatened with closure because of dwindling membership - and today a war hero has made a desperate appeal for fresh faces.

Jim McCloskey, an 85-year-old former Royal Marines commando who served in Korea and holds the post of branch president, says new members are urgently needed to continue the organisation’s work.

“We’re threatened with closure and we don’t want that to happen,” he said. “We’re all a bit older so we’d like new people to take over from us. Our motto is service not self and we want people to help us to help others because that’s what we’re for.”

Currently the combined branch has just 43 members, compared to 65 two years ago.

Albert Cooper, chairman of the St Annes branch, who also chairs the RBL’s Coastal Group covering branches across the Fylde, said: “I am shocked and saddened to hear that the Warton and Lytham branch could be threatened with closure.

“Lytham came together with Warton a few years ago because of falling membership, around the same time St Annes took over the running of the Poppy Appeal for the two towns.

“I was under the impression the branch was now quite healthy but dwindling active membership is sadly the way of the world these days. Members are getting older and not many younger people are interested in getting involved.

“We lost the Fleetwood branch some time ago now and just last year the South Shore branch closed.

“I hope Warton and Lytham comes through this and is okay.”

Kevin Brown, Lytham and Warton branch chairman, said: “We’re trying to get as many people who have time and energy to spare.”

Anyone can join the RBL, regardless of whether or not they have served in the Armed Forces. Those interested can attend the Warton and Lytham annual meeting at the Chequers Club, Warton, at 7.30pm on Wednesday, November 21.