This has been yet another interesting year for the Village Hall Committee, we hope that we have made a significant contribution to community life by maintaining the hall in a reasonable state of repair and by providing a good range of events. Without this level of effort and dedication from the Committee we would not be able to sustain this community hub.
The main focus of our attention this year continues to be on the refurbishment of the hall. This has again taken an endless amount of time and effort over the last twelve months. Following on from the disappointment of the failed Big Lottery bid last year we decided to break our ambitious improvement programme into a number of individual projects and seek financial backing from slightly smaller organisations. It has been a real struggle to find grant awarding bodies to provide sufficient funds to make a start on our dilapidated toilet block. However, I’m pleased to say that the committee gave the go ahead at the March meeting, even though we were still slightly short of our target. The contractor who succeeded in winning the bid for this work is due to start work as soon as planning consent is given. We have recently had discussions with sash window experts to provide some guidance on the cost of refurbishing almost all of the hall windows. I feel another round of funding application forms is imminent! At which point it’s a good place to thank our wonderful secretary Jean Humphrys who has once again borne the brunt of this mammoth task with the professionalism and tenacity that this important job demands. On behalf of the committee, I say a very special thank you to Jean.
The success of the film shows continues to be a major source of revenue for the Village Hall. There has been an interesting selection of films this year and reasonably sized audiences have continued to support us, even through the summer months. Overall, audience levels have dropped slightly, mainly because people have seen some films, or were not attracted by the type of film on offer.
Attendance at the computer drop in sessions dwindled to just one or two people and further classes have been suspended pending anticipated renewed interest.
Pilates seems to be ever popular with the two weekly groups attracting a happy and healthy number of attendees on a regular basis.
Other fund raising events have included shows put on by independent groups of performers or through ‘Highlights’ who sponsor rural theatre. This organisation receives grants to pay for most of the costs associated with live performances, making them affordable to communities like ours. They have proved to be very popular with good attendance figures at all of the shows this year.
Table Tennis, a group that formed this year and meets on Friday evenings is proving to be very popular. Two tables and equipment have been purchased following successful bids to granting bodies and there have been good attendances at all of the sessions so far. Another innovation this year has been the introduction of Archery classes under the expert tuition of an officer from the Willowburn Sports Centre as an outreach project using the hall’s facilities. There are some good archers in the keen group that regularly meets on a Wednesday morning,
The Dementia Support Group received a large grant from Awards for All and now uses the hall on a regular basis to run beginner’s bridge classes and regular drop in sessions. It was this group that was awarded the grant for table tennis equipment for the village hall.
The repainting of the interior of the hall has proved to be a problem. Our contractor unfortunately became ill when he had nearly completed the job and we are still trying to finish it off.
The hall continues to be at the heart of the village life and is used by many different organisations; among these are the Art Group, the Bridge Club, WI, Autumn Club, the Mums and Toddlers’ group, the Pilates classes and the Indoor Bowls Club as well as being a venue to hold private parties, Parish Council meetings and elections. We are delighted that there is such a variety of events.
We have become a member of Community Action Northumberland (CAN) which gives us access to information on energy efficiency and provided us with funds to buy a new water heater.
All in all this is a busy Village Hall and we are indebted to Peter Hollins who maintains our website (www.lesburyvillagehall.co.uk), which provides up to date information on bookings and other items of general interest etc. However, we are still very aware that everyone in our community is not computer literate and we are committed to publishing monthly bulletins in the ‘Bridge’ magazine. Finally, I am indebted to all of the other members of the Village Hall Committee who have once again contributed so much in their own ways over the year.