THE former steward and stewardess of an Ammanford social club which has closed with debts of more than £125,000 have spoken of their despair at failing to keep the bailiffs at bay.

Gerald and Audrey Jones, ex-steward and stewardess at Manor Road Social Club, formerly the Ammanford British Legion, say they have done their best to keep the club afloat.

The couple have described how they fought a losing battle since taking over the club in 1998, when it already had debts of over £90,000.

"We needed to be generating more than £3,500 per week to pay all the bills, but on a good week we would only take up to £1,800," said 59-year-old Mr Jones.

"The debts have just snowballed out of control, despite all our efforts to keep it going.

"We are sick the club has closed. We knew things weren't going well but, even so, the actual closure of the place came completely out of the blue."

Mr Jones blamed a lack of custom for the club's demise. "Like a lot of other places in Ammanford it was obviously in decline," he said. "People are just not drinking socially like they used to."

The club, which was donated to the town by Lord Dynefor in the 1930s, has been re-possessed by Lancashire Building Society, who are now selling the premises.

Some former committee members have expressed anger at the closure. But Mr and Mrs Jones, and former chairperson Ruth Calthorpe, said nothing more could be done.

Mrs Calthorpe said the accounts were always made available for inspection.

"All of us are so sorry to see the club close," she said.

Former members claim that the extent of the club's financial plight was not revealed until the British Legion revoked the licence in December 2005 and a new committee was voted in.

British Legion officer Denis Williams said: "The license was revoked because the club was not operating by Legion rules."

Mr Jones said this was because it could not just rely on the custom of Legion members to stay open.

A former committee member, who did not want to be named, said: "On December 4 we were sworn in, but two days later we all resigned because we would have become liable for more than £125,000 of debt.

"As the club was no longer a charity we were not prepared to take on the debts.

"It is a shame that it has come to this."