AGM - 17th May 2023
Weston Lullingfields Village Hall Chair’s Report 2023
Since its opening in 1968 Weston Lullingfields Village Hall has provided a venue for the community to meet, be educated, be entertained, celebrate and gather in remembrance. Throughout all those years it has been run by a committee of volunteers and held in trust for the village by the Trustees. All of these people, and there have been many, have carried out their duties voluntarily on behalf of the community. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the current members for their energy, efforts and enthusiasm over the years which has meant that our hall continues to provide what those who built it hoped it would.
I would also like to pay tribute to Mr David Lea, one of our longstanding Trustees, who passed away last year. He was a long standing supporter of the hall and will be missed.
Building upon the solid foundations provided by our predecessors has been our aim over the past year. We, like all similar organisations, are now able to plan and organise with rather more confidence following the pandemic and its repercussions, looking at how we can maintain or improve the fabric of the building and its contents while, at the same time, continue to encourage the use of the hall and its grounds.
The committee is supported in the work it does by members of the community who continue to volunteer to help at events and those who come along to those events. I would like to offer my gratitude to those who help out or attend and I am fully aware that many people do both.
Our current committee comprises eleven members, of whom five are elected, four are co-opted, one is a representative from the school and one is a representative from Holy Trinity PCC. The school membership was offered by the current Committee as the school is the largest single user of the hall and the position replaces that of the recently disbanded WI. We have been delighted that the school has taken such an active role and is eager to develop strong links with the village.
Weston Lullingfields and surrounding hamlets have changed a great deal socially and economically since the hall was founded, and out of the original six groups who provided representatives on the committee only the PCC remains.
With so much virtual entertainment and so many activities available today, it would be understandable if some people considered that the days of village halls were numbered but, as we have seen time and time again, people are still willing to turn out and attend events.
By making use of social media and the internet, our Facebook presence and our website provide us with a worldwide audience for our publicity and information. Of course, websites can be as complex and large as we are willing to pay for and so we are developing the site and continuing to provide what people need in a manner which is easy to navigate. Our posters on notice boards and the new pub style roadside sign provide us with traditional ways to share our offer.
The use of bacs payment for events and bookings has increased, allowing a simpler and more efficient way for people who want to use this method to book and pay for events. There has been an occasional enquiry at events about the use of cards as payment and this is something that could be looked into although, with our prices at the bar being very reasonable, cash remains readily used.
Prices for hiring have increased, although the Committee is always mindful of the need to not ‘price ourselves out of the market’ and also ensure that any financial barrier to use of the hall is minimised. We are also mindful of the need to cover our costs in an ever expensive world and also have funds available to repair and improvements. This ‘balancing act’ is one that all village hall have to deal with and we live in an area where there are many halls within a fifteen minute drive.
As well as hiring the hall out to other users, we operate a number of events ourselves, being careful not to clash with other events and also consider how many events we can reasonable put on and how many the ‘market’ will support. The ‘Pop Up Pubs’ are regular features which provide an additional facility for the community alongside the accompanying very popular pizza van. Our ability to sell alcohol on a permanent basis allows us far more flexibility when it comes to operating the bar, providing an added attraction for many and increasing the amount of income. Events run by us include quizzes and ‘Call My Bluff’ and have proved popular among varied age groups, with a format of food, bar and entertainment still ‘selling out’. The hall will hold up to seventy people comfortably and many more if the outside area is used, especially for events when the school marquees can be borrowed and the outside furniture used.
We saw the use of outdoor and indoors used successfully during the joint PCC and hall Jubilee weekend. The events proved very popular and the variety available brought in the crowds and provided an excellent opportunity for the community to get together. The weekend’s offerings also allowed many members of the community to contribute in different ways, whether it be marquee erection and dismantling, making excellent trifles, BBQing, the wonderful flowers etc.etc.
The last events at the hall were those to celebrate the Coronation, and we saw a very enjoyable Coronation evening in aid of Holy Trinity and the following day a picnic on the school field run by the hall.
We have been pleased to support Holy Trinity PCC during the year as they have been faced with some considerable expenses, including rewiring on top of the usual costs incurred with operating a large and old building. By working together we have been able to help the PCC gather funds from ‘joint’ events. Unlike organisations such as the village hall, Holy Trinity was unable to benefit from the grants available during the pandemic.
We are also delighted to have been able to support the school through their use of the hall and also their use of the car park. By allowing the staff, parents and visitors to use the car park we are able to avoid traffic congestion outside the school and make the area much safer for users of the school and others. It is important that we continue to look at how we can help each other in practical ways. Community spirit is not a natural phenomena and has to be generated through positive action.
Our finances remain in a positive state and have allowed us to spend on a number of projects during the year. The hall has been decorated internally and new curtains are, as I write this, in the process of being made and are replacing the previous set. Once completed we will be looking at replacing the curtain tracks to withstand the increased weight of the new fabric and linings.
In the last couple of years we have been able to upgrade the car park, install a pedestrian access, install easy access glazed main doors, replace the noticeboard, clean the roof,repair the roof, paint the outside, replace the old shed with a new easy access one, provide a range of comfortable chairs and all in addition to the regular maintenance and checks required.
Of significant benefit to the village has been the provision of a defibrillator outside the hall. We were delighted to be provided with one by the Henry Angell James Trust and had it installed and registered to provide a valuable resource for those living in or travelling through the locality. We have been delighted with the response of people to it and especially some younger members of the community who have done so much to raise money to support it and also provide a donation to the trust. Training on the use of the defibrillator has also been held at the hall.
I would like to thank all those who have supported the hall throughout the last year and thank the committee for all their hard work and support.
Simon Hey, Chair.