General Townshend club in Fakenham quits Royal British Legion

The General Townshend Club, in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt

The General Townshend Club, in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A club founded to support ex-servicemen has voted to cut its ties with the British Legion.

David James, chairman of the Fakenham branch of the Royal British Legion. Picture: Ian Burt

David James, chairman of the Fakenham branch of the Royal British Legion. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Members of the General Townshend Club in Fakenham voted to disaffiliate from the 'legion in a ballot last October.

The result has been the subject of a bitter row over the past year, with British Legion officials questioning the result.

After being sent a letter signed by 80pc of members calling for the club to be given its independence, the Royal British Legion has agreed it can go.

Club officials were angered that members should have to pay £17 to join the RBL before being allowed to join the club, which also had to pay a £600 annual levy to the 'legion.

In a statement, its committee said: 'A year after holding a ballot on the future of the club, the members of the General Townshend Club in Fakenham are celebrating the decision of Membership Council of The Royal British Legion in London that the club can once again be independent of the 'legion.

'In the ballot, members voted overwhelmingly disaffiliate, but it has still taken over a year, and letter signed by over 80pc of the members, for approval to be granted by the RBL.

'Like Brexit, a few diehards sought to thwart the will of the majority, but democracy has prevailed and the club will move forward as an independent club once more.'

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It added the purpose of the club would 'continue to be primarily for camaraderie of ex-service personnel', although the majority of members have no service background.

It went on: 'New members will no longer have to be members of the Legion in order to join and the club is actively seeking new members to enjoy the club's facilities in Cattle Market Street. 'Currently over 50 people have applied for membership and have been waiting until they do not have to join the RBL in order to become a member of the club. The club will continue to support and promote the work of the Royal British Legion.'

David James, chair of Fakenham British Legion said: 'What can you say - it's a bit like Brexit, you have to respect the voice of democracy.

'This is a set-back but it's not an issue over which the branch has any control. It's something we'll just have to adjust to as a branch and move on accordingly. The work we do for the 'legion goes on.

'The club was instituted in the first place for the benefit of ex-servicemen. All we can do is congratulate the club for win winning the fight.'

The General Townshend Club opened after the First World War, after current Marquess of Townshend's great-aunt donated land and money for it to built for the welfare of people who had fought in the 1914 - 18 conflict and their families.

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