Johnsonville RSA fights to stay open

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 16:39 09/12/2012

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The last truly independent Returned and Services' Association in Wellington city has staved off financial ruin, and is determined to stay open.

''The bravest thing we did was admit we had a problem. If we hadn't done that, we would have hit the ground hard,'' Johnsonville RSA club manager Gary Roberts.

Last month, The Dominion Post reported the Johnsonville RSA was in a a deep financial hole, and in danger of closing by Christmas.

Donations from ''a few well meaning people'' had helped eased the immediate financial strife, Mr Roberts said.

Yesterday a members' meeting gave the RSA a mandate to explore ways to freshening up the club.

Options included a merger, or becoming ''more of a community club,'' Mr Roberts said.

Johnsonville was currently the only RSA left in Wellington city that had not already merged with another club or association to keep its head above water.

Clubs New Zealand had stepped up with an offer of assistance, he said.

The RSA was determined to stay open to honour its fallen, most recently Lance Corporal Leon Smith, a Johnsonville local killed in Afghanistan last year.

''There is no memorial in Johnsonville to remember these 101 names. If we don't have our board up, no-one will remember these fellas.''

Mr Roberts said he was still  disappointed by what he saw as a lack of support from the national RSA.

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