AN SOS call has gone out for new members to sign up to the historic Royal British Legion in Leeds which is under threat of closure.
A dwindling membership of the historical RBL’s Holbeck branch – which has been meeting for more than seven decades – is being exacerbated further as ageing members are dying and suffering from ill health.
Now, the group, which formed in 1932, has just eight people – down from 60 at its peak in the 1960s.
Vice president Joe Lee, 79, of Beeston, a former Leeds police officer for three decades, said: “We are on a mission to find new members in order to keep going.
“Numbers are falling and it seems less and less people are joining up.
“In recent years around half a dozen people have died and many others are too ill to attend.
“Many of us are now in our 80s. We would appeal to younger people, maybe those returning from Iraq or Afghanistan who want to get involved.
“In fact anyone who has any interest at all. We do lots of fundraising and offer support to each other.”
Mr Lee was in the Royal Air Force and served three years at RAF Lyneham. He was in the reserves for 25 years and was commanding officer of the City of Leeds Air Training Corps.
The Legion is the UK’s leading charity providing financial and emotional support to ex-servicemen and women.
He said the group could be seen as being solely for former service staff who were involved in the Second World War, but that was not the case.
“Many members are in their late 70s or 80s now, but anyone who respects their Queen and country is also welcome to join,” he added.
The RBL has other Leeds branches in Headingley and Morley.
The group meets at Holbeck Working Men’s Club, at Jenkinson Lawn, Holbeck, LS11, at 7.30pm on the third Tuesday of each month. The next meeting is April 17 at 7.30pm and new members can just turn up.