A STRICKEN workingmen’s club which less than a year ago had debts of £71,000 has been saved after members rallied round.

Cockfield Workingmen’s Club (WMC), near Bishop Auckland, was placed into receivership after the debts, which were mainly owed to the Inland Revenue, were revealed in March 2008.

An accountant from the Clubs and Institute Union (CIU) stepped in to help reduce the unpaid tax bill and the club’s 200 members vowed to raise as much money as they could.

At a meeting on Thursday evening, the club’s committee revealed that all the debts had been paid, and a legal announcement is expected to confirm the business is out of receivership.

Following the club being placed into receivership, the CIU auditors and the club’s new treasurer worked together with auditors to bring the debt down to £4,000.

However, the accountants, solicitors and liquidators cost £26,000, adding to the debt and plunging the club into more trouble.

But a series of fundraising events, including car boot sales, raffles and bring-andbuy sales, raised more than £12,000. The rest of the debt has been met by increased revenue over the bar.

Club secretary Donald Metcalfe said: “Everyone has worked very hard. The bar staff have been first-class.

Quite often they would work without pay, and members have put their hands in their own pockets to keep the club going.”

Liz Dowson, who organised a weekly raffle that has raised more than £4,000 for the club, said: “The club is a lifeline for some people in the village, so it was important we kept it open. For some of the older people in the village, it is the only place they go to and it is a big part of the community.”

Mick McGlasham is general secretary of the CIU, but in his previous role as Durham branch CIU secretary worked closely with Cockfield WMC.

He said: “I am over the moon for the club. Everyone worked together on this, but the most credit has to go to the members.”

The club is more than 100 years old and at its peak used to attract visitors from across the county.

■ On Saturday, February 13, music group Inspiration will play at the club from 8.30pm.

Tickets are £3.50.