A historic working men’s club that was facing the prospect of closure is looking forward to a brighter future thanks to a mammoth volunteer effort.
Holbeck Working Men’s Club – at 137 years-old thought to be the oldest in the country – was under threat after racking up tens of thousands of pounds of debt and seeing customer numbers dwindle.
But a team of 15 unpaid volunteers and a single paid secretary have toiled hard to take the club out of the red.
And an eclectic mix of events – from a reception for two women who tied the knot in a civil partnership to American wrestling-style nights – has helped to boost the coffers,
Committee member and volunteer barman Ian Pickup said: “Things are looking good. Because we’re run by volunteers all the money is going back into the club and we’re making a profit again.
“It’s very important that the club survives. Holbeck has lost a lot over the years and it can’t afford to lose this too.”
There are now plans to bid for £500,000 of Big Lottery funding to give the club a major overhaul and secure its long-term future.
Committee members hope that major regeneration schemes that are seeing hundreds of new homes built in the area will provide a new customer base. They also want to operate the venue as a community facility for families during the day and a club at night.
Mr Pickup added: “We have to adapt to survive – to offer something for everybody. There are more houses being built and there will be a lot more people coming into the area and we have to supply something to attract those people.
“It’s such a friendly place. Everybody talks to everybody and has a good laugh.
Hopefully we’ll be here for a long time to come.”