Home Guard Club manager: ‘We’re in a fight to survive’

Jackie Proctor, manager of the Home Guard Club in Tiddington, pours her beer away. Photo: Mark Williamson

A FIGHT to survive – that’s the battle facing Jackie Proctor, manager of a community club near Stratford.

Jackie is being forced to consider the future of the Home Guard Club in Tiddington thanks to the second lockdown.

The club hosts everything from salsa dance lessons to offices parties and wedding receptions. It’s also a sports and social club and hires out its facilities, including football pitches, rugby training ground, archery range and cycle track.

Jackie believes the second lockdown will see a wave of local businesses going under. She said: “So many businesses just aren’t going to come back from this.

“We are all moaning about a four-week lockdown but there’s worse to come financially – this is going to hit us 12 months down the line. It will have a massive knock-on effect.

“How are we going to get through this? I just don’t know. I’ve got no income coming in whatsoever now and we’ve still got bills to pay out.

“We’ve been doing everything possible to keep safe – now we’ve got to shut down for four weeks. I’ve got a cellar full of beer which will probably go out of date.

“My staff can’t work as they are on the job retention scheme but I’ve still got to go in there and maintain the grounds and keep things running. I’m back to square one.

“I think a lot of people are going to get to the point where they just give up. We could come out of this lockdown ahead of Christmas then, come January, have to lockdown again. You just don’t know – it’s really disheartening.”

Jackie despairs that the club is empty at a time of year when it should be buzzing.

“The build-up to Christmas is a key time for us: we’re in the middle of the football season and we do a lot of parties. We rely heavily on that revenue but that’s all cleared out – wiped. People are too frightened to book anything for next year because we don’t know where we’ll be. We’ve already had to give loads of refunds on parties, including some wedding receptions.”

The club had invested in making sure it could offer Covid-safe events, such as its recent Halloween evening, but, says Jackie, not all businesses have been so diligent.

“We’ve spent so much money on making sure we are safe but there are so many places that I’ve witnessed in Stratford that have not. We have been so strict and so careful and then there are some places that haven’t and it’s so frustrating.”

“Nationally this lockdown could save lives, but with areas where there are low infection rates it’s definitely frustrating.

“I think that the police should be given more resources to enforce it better. The police get an absolute bashing and it’s not fair. Lots of us have witnessed people breaking the Covid rules and they simply get away with it.”

With the sports ground empty for now, mum-of-two Jackie’s thoughts are turning to the young people who should be running around getting exercise with their friends.

She added: “I manage football side Stratford HGC, a great group of lads aged from 17 to 28 – it keeps them from doing things they shouldn’t.

“But sport is being destroyed with this lockdown. The lads can’t go and meet their mates and that’s not great for their mental health – it’s a worry and I really feel for the younger generation.”