Members call for charities to benefit as RAF club building sold for £1.65m

AF club member Colin Steedman'. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
AF club member Colin Steedman'. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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TOP brass at a Capital armed forces club will take home up to £30k each – after sharing in a £1.65 million windfall when the club was sold off.

The Royal Air Forces Edinburgh Club in Hillside Crescent – once visited by legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong – closed its doors for the final time at the end of last month after 81 years. Now some members want the profits from the sale to be donated to good causes.

“They’ve sold the building and they should give the money to veterans charities,” said club member Colin Steedman, 55, from Leith. “The club has survived the Second World War, the Korean War and the Suez Crisis – what has caused the demise of this RAF club? Was it a foreign enemy, no it was a 12-man committee.”

Cash from the sale will be shared between the 162 members – both ex-servicemen and non veterans – according to length of membership.

Mr Steedman estimates the longest-serving members could be in line for more than £30,000 after the Georgian townhouse was sold off. The buyer’s identity has yet to be revealed but Mr Steedman said rumours are rife the six-storey A listed building is set to be turned into student flats.

“It’s about what’s right for the club,” he said, willing to forego his estimated £10,000 share of the sale as a ten-year member.

“The national rules of the club are made by the Queen. It’s not a bowling club, it’s there for ex-servicemen.”

Both Mr Steedman’s dad, Korean War veteran Thomas, and his grandad, William, served in the Royal Scots. Mr Steedman said he suggested at a meeting donating the proceeds of the sale to charities working with veterans.

“All you could hear was tumbleweeds out there, they just ignored it.

“Everybody gets a big fat pay cheque, everybody is happy but some are happier than others. We’re talking £1.65m, we’re talking serious money.

“Some of us wanted it kept open. It’s there for people to meet, for ex-servicemen to play dominoes.”

Repeated attempts to close the club over the past two years were attributed to running up a derisory £200 overdraft and flooding problems, said Mr Steedman.

The club made Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, an honorary member during his visit to Edinburgh in 1972. John Glenn, the first US man to orbit the earth, also joined the club during one of his many visits to Scotland.

The club was also used throughout the Second World War by pilots based nearby who helped keep the Nazis at bay.

Club secretary Jim Ramage denied the committee were motivated by profit and refused to discuss club business.

“I’m quite happy we’ve done everything as per the rule book,” he added.

andy.shipley@jpress.co.uk