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Funding crisis leaves a Hackney military club facing last salute

PUBLISHED: 11:10 20 October 2011

General Browning Memorable Order of Tin Hats Social Club members Patricia White, Jimmy Sands, Alf Days, Charles Jefferies and Terry Aitken.

General Browning Memorable Order of Tin Hats Social Club members Patricia White, Jimmy Sands, Alf Days, Charles Jefferies and Terry Aitken.

Archant

A historic military social club – the last one of its kind in the country – may not survive to see its 40th anniversary next year because of a lack of funds and members.

The Hackney branch of the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH) was set up in 1972 and provides servicemen and women with a place where they can drink, play darts, and attend ‘socials’ every Saturday night.

But in recent years, numbers have dwindled and now the club may be forced to close.

“I don’t know what we’d do if we didn’t have the MOTHs,” said 71-year-old army veteran Terry Aitkens, who met his wife June there. “It’s not the same as going to a pub. I like to remember my comrades and MOTHs is an important part of my life.

“The club survives solely on money from our own pockets and we are getting by on a week-to-week basis.”

Mr Aitkins, who served in the Royal Signals for more than 20 years, has been a MOTH since 1988 and holds the top position of ‘Old Bill’ in the General Browning ‘shell hole’ group. He said the MOTHs are struggling to pay the bills and maintain the building’s upkeep.

The clubs were founded by a journalist who wanted to help disabled veterans after WW1, but now only the Hackney branch remains.

Members have already tried to broaden its appeal by accepting non-military personnel.

Fundraising secretary, Christine Walton, 59, used to live nearby and began attending with her husband Brian, 65, nearly 20 years ago.

The couple now live in Dover, but travel back to Hackney every weekend because they can’t bear to give up their membership.

She said: “It’s really sad the club may not be around in 2012 to celebrate its momentous 40th anniversary.”

Mrs Walton has launched a new fundraising campaign and membership drive.

The club will host a jumble sale on Saturday, October 22, from 11am. Admission will cost 20p.

There are also plans for a Halloween party and a Christmas bazaar.

The club is open every day from 10.30am until 11.30pm. Membership starts from £5 per year.

For more information, visit www.mothchq.co.uk or call 0208 985 7963.


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