By mid-March the foundations were complete and the steelwork started to appear. The heavy crane used on site did not sink into the car park. This means that the substructure is better than had been hoped and may enable economies later on. At the same time, work is still proceeding on how best to deal with the issue of the trees in the car park subject to a preservation order, as are preparations for future use of the hall and on how we make sure that the future hall has a true community focus.
Word is getting round about the intention to start a community cafe and quite a few people have expressed an interest in helping with this. A leader will be needed. The appeals in last month’s magazine for help with television screens has been generously responded to and we have also had a very generous and ‘gift aided’ donation which will be the budget for better chairs. This donation has come from someone outside the village but who has enjoyed use of the old hall for many years, attending the village society and history group meetings. It is difficult to express our thanks adequately for this.
On that subject, there are two remaining major targets in terms of equipment that we hope to fund. The first being lightweight folding tables, which we have seen used elsewhere and can be stored on trolleys, and the second is a collapsible stage system which can also be stored on a trolley system. If we cannot do all these things at the beginning, we do have backup plans.
When the hall in the High Street burned down in 1962, it put an end to the youth club that was thriving there at that time. Youth work in the old Hall in Askew Grove did not last unfortunately. We have been visiting other youth clubs and have been in consultation with the community volunteer service locally. Basically, the support and funding for youth initiatives is there, but the hard part is finding enough of a group of volunteers to run a youth club. If anyone is interested in working on this, perhaps just starting with a simple youth cafe type format, please get in contact. With busy lives, it can be difficult to see how one can do this, but one villager recently told me this about times past (paraphrased): ‘after a bad day at work and not feeling like wanting to go, an evening running the youth club lifted the spirits no end’. We could feel this buzz when we visited Hilton youth club and clearly the young people were getting a lot from it. There is a time slot reserved for this purpose if we can get it off the ground.
The village hall committee is also looking at how the old hall was used and what changes might need to be made to get the best out of the different facilities that the new hall will have. This is not a straightforward as it sounds but it’s important to do so. Availability has to be maximised so we can give priority to local groups and make sure the hall is primarily available for the villagers who are paying for it through past and present funds donated directly or via the parish council. The more efficiently the hall is used, the better we can cover costs, control fees and have a prudent savings plan for the future. The good news is that we are already getting enquiries about bookings for major family events. I will say more on this next month.