Community’s delight as ‘heart of the village’ hall restored

Volunteers are ready to welcome locals back to the hall Picture: HILLAS SMITH

Volunteers are ready to welcome locals back to the hall Picture: HILLAS SMITH - Credit: Archant

A village is celebrating after eight years of planning and refurbishment work was completed on its village hall.

The newly refurbished Westleton village hall Picture: TONY INGRAM

The newly refurbished Westleton village hall Picture: TONY INGRAM - Credit: Archant

The hall in Westleton has undergone a radical transformation in the past 12 months, the result of eight years of planning and fundraising.

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.

"It was a huge undertaking," said Anne Ingram, from the project.

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"Getting the funding was quite a struggle.

"It needed to be so much more to meet the needs of the community."

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In total, the project required a budget in excess off £700,000 with money coming from a range of sources including the Big Lottery.

After years of preparation, building work began in January 2019. Now a year later the work has finally been completed and groups are preparing to make their way back into the building.

The new space includes a refurbished main hall with surround sound, new lighting and heating, as well as a dry archive room for village records, and multi-use space in the foyer.

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

"The whole hall has been refurbished, asbestos taken out and an extension was added on.

"It has a social space that we didn't have previously," said Ms Ingram.

The project has been a real labour of love.

"The contributions from the local community have been amazing from making cakes to cleaning stuff. It's been a big community effort," said Ms Ingram.

This community input looks set to continue as residents look to shape the future of the village.

"People missed having it and now they are coming up with ideas of what they want to do and making things happen," said Ms Ingram.

"It's the heart of the village."

An official grand opening for the village hall will be held in February.

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