Last fundraising push for Walkhampton Village Hall

By Contributor in Community News

A LAST push for funding is being made to undertake the first stage of a project to extend the well-used Walkhampton Village Hall — or a large chunk of grant money could be lost.

The Walkhampton Village Hall committee has been working hard over several years to raise money for ‘Project George’ — a scheme to extend the hall and modernise the facilities as well as undertaking other work to improve the day to day use of the building. With only £15,000 left to raise, the first stage of the project needs to be started this summer or the project risks losing £20,000 of grant funding.

Chair of the village hall committee Pete Shapcott said: ‘Opened in the early 60s, the village hall has been run and used by the community continually since then. Over the years, various generations have adapted and maintained the building for the use of people in the surrounding area.

A few years ago, George Eggins, who farmed at Knowle Down, passed away and bequeathed the hall £29,340 which started our fund off in 2012. The committee was determined not to fritter away this kind donation and committed to use it to start a fund aimed at setting the hall up for the next 50 years.

The project was named Project George in his memory. With the help of various grants and sustained fundraising efforts in the village, we have raised, to date, £85,000 towards this aim.’

The project intends to extend the hall floor area overall, modernise the kitchen, build a store room for the pre-school which uses the hall, build a new shower block with changing rooms and undertake some other alterations to the existing building to improve day to day use. The overall cost of the whole project is estimated at £200,000. The committee said the cost was so high because the work also involved replacing the ageing roof, which has asbestos content.

The first stage, which is hoped can be started this year, is to extend and replace the kitchen and build the pre-school store room while the roof is also replaced. Because of the asbestos health risks, particularly to the children, the work needs to be done during the summer holidays.

Pete said: ‘The problem is if we are not able to award contracts for undertaking stage one of the work this summer, we are at risk of losing £20,000 of allocated grant money; money which was offered on the basis that Project George can deliver these additional facilities this year.

‘The £85,000 we have so far accumulated is about £15,000 short of our stage one estimate. All the necessary planning approvals are in place and local contractors have submitted their tenders for doing the work this summer so we must raise the extra £15,000 very soon.’

The committee expressed thanks to the Garfield Weston Foundation, Burrator Parish Council and The Dartmoor Communities Fund for grants received or promised and to CGP (SW) Ltd which has offered to undertake some of the ground works for the project free of charge and architect Graeme Barclay for his support and advice.

To raise funds for Project George, the committee runs a coffee shop and market every Saturday, from 10am to noon selling various wares and the village flower show, fun day and vehicle show and arts and crafts shows are annual events held in the hall all helping to raise funds for Project George.

Anyone who would like to help or make a donation can do so by contacting Pete Shapcott on 01822 855140 or email modelmakerman@hotmail.com

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