A SOMERSET branch of the Royal British Legion faces closure unless new members are recruited.

Ilminster British Legion, which meets at the Shrubbery Hotel, faces an uncertain future if new people do not step forward to give it a new lease of life.

Currently the club has 55 members, but the average age of the members is about 80-years-old.

The branch, which formed in 1927, is in need of younger members to ensure it can keep running in the future. The need for “new blood” is said to be a country-wide problem across the organisation.

John Gooddall, chairman, said: “The situation is we have a branch of 55 members, but the average age is 80-plus. What we really want the branch to have is new blood.

“We are limping along and the worst case scenario is the branch closes. We could try a merger and we tried that two years ago with Hambridge. We took them on but now we are in the same boat they were in, but the situation is countrywide.

“Crewkerne have got new people and a new lease of life and we are trying to change the focus.”

Mr Gooddall says the legion is becoming more professional and is open to anyone who believes in its causes and objectives.

The branch is hoping to give a treasurer position to one of its members, then a chairman and secretary some time later.

He added: “The perception is that people join the legion to wear blazers with badges and to go to the club to drink cheap beer but the legion is becoming more professional and is looking at recent conflicts.”

“The branch is open to everybody now – anybody who believes in the causes is welcome to join.

“We really need a treasurer and somebody, perhaps, in a year’s time, to take on the chairman and secretary posts.

“A lot of the people who collect for the Poppy Appeal are not legion members, but believe in our objectives.

“We have been limping along and we can still make sure we help with the remembrance events but closing would be sad. My own view is it would not be a total disaster but it would be a shame if the branch went – it would be nice if younger people could put some new blood into it.”