Bawdeswell celebrates £500k Big Lottery boost for village hall project

Bawdeswell Village Hall is going to be rebuilt after a £500,000 Big Lottery Fund grant - From left, William Mason, David Cockburn, Les Beach, Carolyn Good, Alan Collier, John Mallen Marietta Menzies and John Menzies, all happy with the news. Picture: Matthew Usher. Bawdeswell Village Hall is going to be rebuilt after a £500,000 Big Lottery Fund grant - From left, William Mason, David Cockburn, Les Beach, Carolyn Good, Alan Collier, John Mallen Marietta Menzies and John Menzies, all happy with the news. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
6:59 PM

A community is celebrating a £500,000 lottery windfall which will help it boost activity and social wellbeing by building a bigger, better village hall.

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The Bawdeswell Village Hall Charity was awarded the grant from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities buildings programme.

The proposed building is expected to be completed early next year and is aimed at providing a modern, accessible resource for people living in and around the village, near Dereham – particularly for the young and the elderly.

It will replace the current hall on Reepham Road, which has been outgrown by the rising demand for a huge variety of activities including table tennis, a bridge club, zumba and pilates sessions, parent and toddler groups, quizzes and film shows for the village cinema.

As well as the Big Lottery grant, the committee has won backing from organisations including Breckland Council and Bawdeswell Parish Council, which have so far contributed a total of £65,000. Further grants have been pledged by the Geoffrey Watling Charity and the Fitzmaurice Trust.

But the funding is not yet complete, and the project team still needs the community’s help to find the final £60,000 required.

James Lilwall, chairman of the village hall committee, said “The community will continue to build on its success to date and create exciting ideas for further fundraising and future activities in order that the project can deliver the needs of the village.”

The planned single-storey building includes a main hall, two smaller activity rooms, toilets and showers, a social area and a kitchen to cater for large functions. The development is intended to complement the neighbouring recreation field, giving a “complete package” for social and sporting events.

John Menzies, a retired chartered engineer, led the team which formulated the conceptual designs, later finalised by Norwich-based architects Chaplin Farrant.

He said: “The current village hall was built in 1991 and it was only a third of the size that was originally intended. In the intervening years it has become very dilapidated and the number of activities has expanded exponentially.

“What the Big Lottery is looking for is ‘outcomes’, and the hall really is the vehicle to enable those outcomes to be achieved. We have identified a need for families in this village to have somewhere to go, and there is also a need for people who may be elderly and isolated who welcome an opportunity to meet in the village.

“This new hall will allow all these age groups and social groups to come together, but it will also encourage sporting activities, improve health and help community cohesion.”

The committee is hosting an open meeting from 7pm on April 24 in the village hall, and has encouraged people to come along for an update on future plans, activities and timescales.

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