Celebrations as village completes £700k modern makeover for community venue

Westleton villagers Amanda Freeman, Eddie Higgins and Anne Higgins using the new kitchen facilities

Westleton villagers Amanda Freeman, Eddie Higgins and Anne Higgins using the new kitchen facilities in the renovated village hall Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Villagers welcomed a government minister to see how they have transformed their not-fit-for-purpose community hall with a modern makeover to create a warm and inviting venue.

Margret Branton, a member of the carpet bowls club, and and Dilys Hall, achivist, watch Lord Gardine

Margret Branton, a member of the carpet bowls club, and and Dilys Hall, achivist, watch Lord Gardiner, DEFRA minister, signing the �75,000 cheque at Westleton village hall Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Defra Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner visited Westleton village hall to see the work done - and took along a £75,000 cheque to present to the hall's trustees to complete the £700,000 raised for the project.

The refurbishment has seen the main hall restored with surround sound, new lighting and heating, as well as a dry archive room for village records, and multi-use space in the foyer which will include a cafe available to residents and the many ramblers, dog walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists that visit the village each year.

It is hoped a new consulting room will be used for private meetings or even chiropody sessions.

The cash presented by Lord Gardiner as part of Village Halls Week was through the government's grant scheme, run by charity organisation Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) - and Westleton secured the maximum grant possible.

The newly renovated Westleton village hall Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The newly renovated Westleton village hall Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond


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Lord Gardiner said: "Village halls are an essential part of rural life. I am delighted that our grant scheme is helping to refurbish our nation's village halls, and each and every one will make a real difference to their communities.

"There can be no doubt that village halls are more important and relevant than ever.

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"Village Halls Week provides a perfect opportunity for people up and down the country to celebrate these wonderful places at the heart of our rural community."

The project in Westleton has taken about a year but was the result of eight years of planning and fundraising.

The Westleton carpet bowls team Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The Westleton carpet bowls team Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Back in 2012, villagers got together to decide what they wanted out of their village hall, which has stood since 1840 and was formerly the village school.

After 170 years it was felt that the building no longer served the local community as well as it could and so work began to create a building that would be able to serve Westleton now and in the future.

Money for the scheme came from a range of sources including the Big Lottery.

A spokeswoman for the project said: "Almost the whole community has a stake in our village hall, and we have called on skills from so many people to make this project happen. We host many activities such as film club, exercise groups and community meals, and now with this vital government funding we will be able to do much more.

The newly renovated Westleton village hall Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The newly renovated Westleton village hall Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

"Without our village hall, many people in our community would be very lonely, and we can now bring even more people together."

DEFRA minister Lord Gardiner gifted a �75,000 cheque from the government to help pay for the work wh

DEFRA minister Lord Gardiner gifted a �75,000 cheque from the government to help pay for the work which has been done at the village hall at Westleton Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The Westleton bowls team meet at the village hall every week Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The Westleton bowls team meet at the village hall every week Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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