Hugs and tears were the order of the day during the final Poppy Club meeting held at Alderson House.
Around fifty members and staff enjoyed a bitter-sweet afternoon of reminiscing, dancing and listening to live music to mark the end of the club meetings at the Royal British Legion run centre.
Alderson House will officially close its doors at the end of February, but many of the staff have already been made redundant and no guests have stayed at the break centre since December.
Poppy Club member and Royal Navy veteran Mike Adams said: “It is absolutely disgraceful. Look at the happiness and friendships here today….the closure of Alderson House is misjudged and short-sighted. As usual, it’s London that makes the decisions without thinking through the consequences.”
Some staff members, who have lost their jobs, also attended the event. They declined to make any comment having been told by national RBL not to comment on the matter to the press.
The Poppy Club is hoping to meet at new premises and keep together despite the loss of their meeting place.
The closure of Alderson House is part of a plan by the London headquartered national Royal British Legion. In an earlier statement, they said it was ‘making the most of its resources and evolving with changes in the Armed Forces community.’
After a huge outcry in Bridlington, and at the other three rest centres around the U.K, the Board of Trustees of the RBL confirmed the charity would cease to operate the Bridlington Centre on South Marine Drive.
Many veterans expressed their total disappointment, frustration and disaffection with the national RBL, with some saying they would not help with any further charitable collections. An Echo online petition collected over 1,000 signatures opposing the closure with people from all over the U.K and beyond adding their comments.
The Echo launched an appeal to raise funds for a Mini Bus for Alderson House in 2017 and helped to raise over £75,000 in 22 months. Many local organisations and individuals helped to raise money for the cause and the Echo produced a charity calendar to raise hundreds of more for the appeal.
When challenged on what would happen with this money, a spokesperson for the national RBL said they would be taking the issue to their legal team. Subsequently, they decided to return the funds back to those that have raised the money.
If you have donated any money to the Alderson House Mini Bus Appeal you have the right to ask for it to be returned. You are urged to write with details and the amount donated to:
The Royal British Legion
199 Borough High Street
Alternatively please call 0808-802-8080.
Mon – Fri. 10.am – 4.pm