THE Queen has politely declined an invite to visit historic Ridge Hill Lane Working Men’s Club in Stalybridge.
Paul Bishop, the club’s CEO, sent a cheeky letter to Buckingham Palace to inform Her Majesty about their ongoing battle for survival and issue an invite for when she next visits Manchester.However hopes of a Royal visit were dashed with a reply from Jennie Vine, deputy correspondence co-ordinator at the Palace.
She wrote the Queen receives many similar requests and has made it a rule not to support or endorse individual initiatives.
Miss Vine concluded by wishing the working men’s club every success in ensuring its long history remains unbroken.
Mr Bishop’s letter to the Queen included a plotted history of what is believed to be the country’s oldest working men’s club – it dates back to 1860 – and how its future remains under threat because of debts.
He added it also contained a cheeky request to pay a visit on her next trip to Manchester so she could be given a guided tour.
Mr Bishop said: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get anywhere in life.
“I mentioned if the Queen was in Manchester she might like to make a personal appearance.
“There was little chance it would happen but it was worth a try and has also given us further publicity about our plight.”
Just when the working men’s club thought it was making progress in tackling its £40,000 debts has come a new blow.
One of the wettest winters on record has caused problems with the building’s flat roof, which has been leaking while there has also been issues in the cellar which also needs work doing to it.
Mr Bishop said emergency repairs have been carried out to the roof which will soon need replacing.
He added that work will have to be funded by a grant or loan which will add to their financial pressures.
It was last year the Correspondent highlighted the plight of the working men’s club, which was under threat of closure because it has £40,000 of debts.
Though the debts have been reduced from more than £200,000 since the present committee took charge in 2011, Mr Bishop admitted they had run out of money.
But after the meeting with Heineken, the club’s last remaining creditor, a rescue package was thrashed out and Mr Bishop was more upbeat that a solution can be found with a new strategy moving forward to increase custom.
The threat to the club received considerable publicity, both home and from throughout the world.
And in the summer BBC’s The One Show put on a special concert to spotlight their plight.
It featured comedian/actor Ted Robbins, who had appeared in Phoenix Nights, as compere along with acts Rowetta, formerly with the Happy Mondays, and the Kosmonauts.
Mr Bishop explained since June they have attracted about 40 new members which, along with other initiatives, has helped improved finances.
He stressed, however, it remains a long-term effort to get the working men’s club back into the black and not to rule out further invitations to high-profile figures as it is important to keep their plight in the public eye.