PEOPLE power is seeing Ringwood Social Club rise from the ashes after it closed its doors to members 18 months ago.

Members of the club voted to close it in April 2011, after its financial and management difficulties were highlighted and it was left struggling to attract enough business at the West Street venue.

Since then the listed building has remained empty.

But now a nine-strong team of volunteers has stepped in and formed a new committee, which has already put in place a financial regime to try to bring the club back into the black and are formulating plans to give it a complete overhaul.

Alison Lee, speaking on behalf of the committee, said: “Our aim is to save this building from being left to rot. It has been a community building since the turn of the last century and a social club since 1956. We want to give something back to the community, for people and for their families in Ringwood.”

The club, which in Victorian times was the Antelope pub, opened as a social club some time after the First World War.

She said: “Ringwood Social Club has been part of the make-up of Ringwood town for well over 50 years, serving the community of Ringwood and surrounding areas.

“These volunteers are working tirelessly to bring about a suitable outcome for the future of the club. Already we have negotiated a stable regime over time, in a managed way, to allow us some time to get the club in financial order.

“The committee aims to modernise the club, to provide a new and upbeat establishment for young, old and those in-between, with a variety of services and a new image, including facilities for the less able in our community.

“We look forward to being able to offer a newly refurbished clubhouse including a function and conference suite, a restaurant area, a family and children’s room, an outside patio area, Wifi, entertainment and reasonably priced beverages in a modern and homely environment.

“The club would also, of course, be able to offer a home to local teams and clubs once again.

“This project will also enable the refurbishment of the properties, which are listed buildings and on the local authority’s 'at risk' list, to a modern building of character while maintaining their unique heritage for future generations to enjoy.”

She added: “By providing all of this, as well as diligent and well trained staff, the committee believes it will become a thriving business, securing the club’s place in the town for its people, not only now but for future generations.”