‘We can do this’ – Village hall fundraising in ‘full swing’ – £75k still needed by Christmas
PUBLISHED: 10:01 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:32 19 November 2018
Fundraising for a historic Suffolk village hall refurbishment is said to be in “full swing” – with nearly 90% of the target total secured.
Villagers in Westleton had feared they needed “something radical” to raise £700,000 to fund works to the Grade II listed former school before their Christmas deadline.
But after issuing a rallying call in September, organisers say just over £75,000 is left to raise.
“We’ve had an tremendous response to the funding appeal - and really think we can do this,” said village hall volunteer Anne Ingram.
The project. designed by OWL Architects, would see an extension built to create a “vibrant space for people to meet” and a refurbishment of the old Victorian school hall to provide a more welcoming atmosphere to host social, educational, and arts-related function.
Other proposals would include an extendable coffee station built to offer a range of bar and cafe options, and the introduction of wi-fi internet access for a meeting room.
A small consulting room would be available to provide chiropody, counselling, Citizens’ Advice, physiotherapy and healthcare sessions.
Among the most sought after improvements, however, would be a new kitchen, which organisers say will “transform” the village hall, enabling sessions in healthy meals, cookery classes, and a possible a meal delivery service. It would also cater for the village’s Christmas and harvest festivals, as well as the popular Wildflower Festival, which has been running for 50 years in the village.
“The plans are the result of seven years research and consultation, and many options have been worked on before the current scheme was agreed by the village,” said Mrs Ingram.
“The current project will cost just over £700,000. Big Lottery has pledged £460,000 conditional on raising the balance by the end of 2018 and fundraising efforts so far have achieved 89% of that target.”
Plans also include restoring the deteriorating slate roof and taking out the “ugly” suspended ceiling to re-instate the original collar trussed roof.
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.
Project organisers have highlighted the “vital” service provided by the village hall and warned that failure to raise the remaining funds by Christmas would see the project fold.
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