Stratford RSA to close - for now

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 18/08/2014

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It was an emotional day yesterday for the cash-strapped Stratford RSA whose membership has voted to close the doors.

But the community, which holds dear the memory of its Gallipoli war hero Colonel William Malone, is expected to rally to ensure the group's services continue.

A well-attended meeting yesterday voted to cease trading as of today and to give the executive committee approval to sell or otherwise dispose of the clubrooms.

Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke, who attended the meeting, said it was a big call for the members.

"All in all there's a bit of pain and sadness. But I'm sure whatever decisions are made it will continue on," he said.

Vice-president Kevin Holley said while the vote sounded like it was doomsday for the club, the committee was focused on looking at all other options rather than selling the clubrooms. It would need the full support of the citizens of Stratford.

The 120 people who voted represented a solid turnout of the 400-strong membership.

"We're going to work from today to see if there is any way we can save the RSA with everyone helping. We've got plans for the future."

The club had clawed back the $330,000 debt it inheritedfrom a former committee which resigned in 2008. The current debt was $120,000. To reduce the debt the club was now run by volunteers and surplus equipment had been sold.

The mayor said the council wanted to do everything it could to ensure the RSA continued its valuable welfare services and commemorative events and had a home for its memorabilia. As the home of Malone, the Stratford RSA had that "little bit more special meaning", the mayor said.

"Next year marks 100 years since Gallipoli and the Stratford RSA is due to have its centenary in 2018. I'm sure that the club will survive."

A determined Holley remarked: "If we can keep it open for 100 years, it will be open another 100 years."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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