AN OXFORD fundraising organisation is launching a recruitment drive today for the first time in its 70-year history.

Oxford Round Table is down to ten full members and two guests - the lowest it has ever had since it was formed in 1937.

Despite the shortfall, the organisation has managed to raise about £75,000 for charity over past three years through fundraising efforts, including the annual firework display in South Park.

Members hope an open day will boost turn-out at their fortnightly meetings.

Jason Priest, vice-chairman of Oxford Round Table, said: "I think we are at our lowest ever and my fear is that without recruiting it will only go down.

"This is the first time I know of that Oxford Round Table has launched a recruitment campaign.

"We are really down to the bare bones."

Mr Priest said at its height the organisation had more than 30 members, traditionally recruited from banks, building societies, solicitors, accountants and architects.

Nowadays people come from all walks of life, Mr Priest said, and added Oxford's current members included two printers, a roofing contractor, a solicitor, a financial adviser, an NHS relations manager and a Royal Mail manager.

He said: "If you go back to the '50s and '60s, people were queueing at the door to join. Numbers throughout the years have been very good.

"What happened is a lot of people have cottoned on to the misconception that our table is very much like a masonic sect.

"When I meet people and say I am in Round Table I instantly have the banter about it being the funny handshake gang, but it is not like that."

The Oxford group, part of the worldwide Round Table organisation, is a forum to network, socialise and fundraise, Mr Priest said.

Members must be male and can be aged between 18 and 45, he added.

Mr Priest urged as many people as possible to visit the Old Black Horse pub in St Clement's between 10am and 8pm today to find out more.

He said: "I think people are not queueing to join Round Table today because there is not enough awareness of it.

"If we get another ten members on the day that would be a perfect start. It is well rewarding and members are very respected by the community."