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‘Something radical has to happen’ - Urgent dash to raise £120k to save ‘lifeline’ village hall

PUBLISHED: 19:00 29 September 2018

Westleton Village Hall volunteer Anne Ingram (far right) pictured with trustees Sheena Robertson (far left) and Tony Ingram and the Westleton Quilters Picture: ANDREW HIRST

Westleton Village Hall volunteer Anne Ingram (far right) pictured with trustees Sheena Robertson (far left) and Tony Ingram and the Westleton Quilters Picture: ANDREW HIRST

Archant

Suffolk villagers are seeking ‘something radical’ to help save their much loved community hub, which is in “desperate need of modernising”.

People in Westleton say their village hall is a “vital” lifeline and are trying to raise £120,000 before Christmas to attract extra funding to overhaul the historic building.

Project leaders received planning approval for an extension and improvements to the hall, along with a conditional £460,000 Big Lottery grant.

However, if the villagers fail to reach their own fundraising target the Lottery cash will be pulled, and the project will fold.

Arlette Smith, deputy chairman of Westleton Parish Council said: “Without a doubt something radical has to happen. We need help. If this doesn’t happen, we don’t have a future”.

The Grade II listed hall, built as a school in 1842, supports many activities which promote healthy living or reduce isolation, such as art, carpet bowls, astronomy, films, quilting and table tennis. A weekly ‘soup and pud’ offering an affordable lunch is well attended by peopled aged into their 90s.

Despite its importance, the hall’s limited capacity, facilities and deteriorating infrastructure is said to have brought a “creeping decline in usage”.

Villagers have been pushing for improvements since 2011, while also trying to recruit volunteers, which the hall relies on.

But with time running out, the campaign has taken on added urgency.

Volunteer Anne Ingram said there had been “tremendous support” but more was needed. “If we don’t achieve the full funding by December deadline the project will fold,” she added.

Lesley Davies, of the Soup and Pud events, said the hall was “vital”.

“The location is critical, at the heart of the village it is perfectly situated, but we desperately need to extend the support and give the hall a future,” she added.

Villager Brian Boulanger said the hall had been a “lifeline. “I wanted to show my appreciation by pledging a donation and I hope others will think in the same vein so we can meet our target,” he added.

Andrew Burgess Priory Paddocks Nursing Home said village hals were “essential” n supporting independent living for older people. Suffolk Coast MP Therese Coffey said the improvements would “provide a welcome facility for all” including neighbouring villages.

Email Hall for All to find out about upcoming fundraisers and ways to donate.

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