Cash award is like winning ‘Olympic gold’ for project team

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Villagers in Thornham are celebrating as £475,910 of Lottery money means work can start on their new village hall.

“It’s like winning an Olympic gold medal - we worked hard for three years and it’s a great result,” said Colin Venes, grant co-ordinator for the project team.

The seven-strong team are aiming to celebrate Christmas 2013 with a party in the new hall - and work is due to start at the end of February.

“We are absolutely delighted with the award. It will provide great opportunities for Thornham and the adjacent area. The project team worked incredibly hard and are grateful for the support from the local community, especially the

volunteers who helped with fund raising, the parish council, the trustees, and Norfolk Rural Community Council,’ said Mr Venes.

Villagers have had to make do with a 106-year-old hall, built originally as a drill hall for the Church Lads’ Brigade, which has no kitchen facility, no parking and no outside play area.

The old hall will be sold to help pay for the new facility and already has planning permission for a three-bedroom detached house but Mr Venes stressed that it would not be sold until the new hall was up and running.

The cash comes on top of a £20,820 development grant, also from the Big Lottery Fund, to help complete the final stages of the bid process, and local support in the shape of £15,000 from the Norfolk Rural Community Council and a further £10,000 from West Norfolk Council.

The Big Lottery Fund grant will provide 69pc of the projected overall cost with the remaining 31pc coming from the sale of the old village hall, expected to be in the region of £200,000.

Additional regional grants and the proceeds of fund raising activities by the villagers, including the Bag Ladies of Thornham, who have so far raised more than £20,000; the Music on the Field and various other events.

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