Newport navy club thriving a year on from lockdown fear of closure

A navy club that feared for its future a year ago amid lockdown is now celebrating a new lease of life.

Chair Pete Bunting in the naval club
Chair Pete Bunting in the naval club

The Newport Royal Naval Association has been a safe harbour for veterans for more than 30 years, but has also hosted groups of all ages and become a destination for some of the town's lively entertainment events including open mic nights.

It meant the club came to rely on its takings from hosting various social events, and when coronavirus made that impossible the committee were staring down the barrel of having to shut for good.

But the volunteers were able to coordinate kind donations of sanitising equipment and put a clear plan in place, while negotiations with Telford & Wrekin Council and the club's landlords have been constant.

Expenses were kept low, although rent and utility bills kept going out, and it meant that when open mic nights returned in May the club was in a position to take full advantage.

Now, with the veterans able to visit again for refreshments (though not allowed to dance, to their frustration), income has started flowing again and the future looks bright – according to chair Pete Bunting.

'Highly appreciated'

Mr Bunting was among the founder members and is still going strong leading the dedicated committee.

He said: "We've had a few grants from the council – the council have been generous, our landlords have been generous.

"We buckled down hard at the beginning of lockdown and put a plan in place, and we've come out of it almost smelling of roses.

"It's a lovely part of the community that is starting to come back together and it is highly appreciated by the people that use it."

Opening up to a wider cohort of community groups has also helped add to the coffers and keep the club going.

"We're now hosting the NHS from the diabetes eye screening service. They approached us and asked if they could come along and see if the club was any good for them – they were absolutely delighted.

"They pay to use it six days a month and that helps us.

New faces

"We always try and give something back to the community. It's been a nice experience, and the girls and the lads that come here from the NHS have all been really lovely people.

"We've actually seen some new faces interested in membership this year, which is really rewarding. We need to be a lot less insular than we have been."

The club has also signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant and its doors are open to anyone from the armed forces community who could use support.

"I'm quite chuffed with how the whole thing is progressing."

To help the club or to learn about using the facilities, visit facebook.com/newportnavyclub/ or call Mr Bunting on 07850 462575.

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