Plea for community to help reverse worrying decline in Leighton Buzzard’s Royal British Legion membership

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The Royal British Legion in Leighton Buzzard is calling on the community to make use of its facilities and reverse a worrying trend of declining membership.

The branch on West Street has been established since 1929 and besides being a social venue, it is also hired out for meetings, conferences and special events.

President Arthur Young said: “The membership is going down, mainly because of people dying.

“We’ve got very few new members joining because most people think you have to have been a member of the armed forces – which isn’t the case.”

Anyone can join the Royal British Legion, paying £18.50 a year for national membership of top of £6 per year to join a local branch. The Legion in West Street depends heavily on local branch membership, with just £1.50 of members’ national membership fees being spent locally.

“If it weren’t for the local people joining here, we wouldn’t have a club,” said Mr Young. “Of our members, about five are ex-servicemen.

“Last year, the town council held courses to help get people back to work, and we hired our hall out to them.

“It’s an ideal venue for that sort of thing. We’ve got the hall, a second function room and kitchens.”

The branch is owned by its members who volunteer to decorate it each year. Live music is often played and the club hosts ska nights each Friday.

Branch chairman Mel Evans said: “What we are trying to do is to get local bands for our members to dance to. Also, if there’s any young bands who want to practice in front of an audience, they are more than welcome.”

For details, email admin@rbllb.co.uk.