RAFA Association at risk of folding after 70 years launches appeal to boost membership

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford Branch members and guests (with David Bryan seventh from left) on a recent outing to RAF Linton-on-Ouse Bradford Branch members and guests (with David Bryan seventh from left) on a recent outing to RAF Linton-on-Ouse

An armed forces group with a history of almost 70 years is in danger of folding if more members do not join.

The Bradford and District Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association has a dwindling and aging membership and if numbers are not improved at its annual meeting this week, it will have to close later this year.

Member David Bryan said: “Regrettably the Bradford branch is in danger of being closed. The problem is that although it has around 70 members on its books, most of them are elderly or ill and unable to take any meaningful part in branch activities, leaving only seven or eight people to carry the load, and four of those are straggling with advancing years and ill health.

“This means the branch will close sometime in the second half of this year unless it can recruit a good number of new and active members.”

Mr Bryan hopes younger members could help revive the group.

During the Second World War it became apparent there was a growing need among members of the British, the Empire and the Commonwealth Air Forces for an organisation for people with a common experience to come together to offer friendship, help and support to the mutual benefit of all.

From this the RAFA was formed and the Bradford and District Branch was established in 1946.

Membership is open to anyone who has served with the British, the Empire or the Commonwealth Air Forces at any time and in any capacity. Close relatives can also join as Associate Members.

Welfare has been at the fore of the Association, which works in close partnership with the RAF Benevolent Fund and assists significantly with financial support and respite needs of those who have served in the air forces.

The local branch is closely involved in that support, which also extends to widows of former airmen.

The annual general meeting is on Wednesday at the Midland Hotel in Forster Square, Bradford, at 7.30pm. Anyone with an interest in the future of the group is encouraged to attend.

Mr Bryan said: “You will be warmly welcomed and have an opportunity to have a friendly chat with members without any pressure to join. Who knows, you may suddenly bump into a long-lost RAF friend.”

Any ex-airforce personnel or their widowed spouses who may need welfare help, should contact (01484) 661395 or jpf@talktalk.net for advice.

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