THE SMELL of newly-baked cake and freshly made coffee lingers in the air of the room as a group of villagers gather in Mary Tavy’s Coronation Hall to keep warm and socialise as part of the warm space and pensioners’ coffee morning.

Meanwhile, in the giant main hall the sound of numerous hammers on tacks rents the air as creative locals take part in the upholstery class.

These are just two of numerous activities which make the hall an important hub of village life and keep the income flowing to fund the ongoing repairs and environmental improvments which will maintain its use.

Central to much of the thriving life of the hall is Tony Williams, one of its management trustees.

The hall has royal connections because it was built as a place to celebrate the late Queen’s coronation, so it is a tribute to Tony (who has been a trustee for 25 years) and energetic people like him that the hall is still seen as relevant.

Tony explained that there was no venue where it was legal or otherwise allowed to drink alcohol in the village in 1952 to celebrate, a catalyst for the hall to be built.

He said: ‘There’s been changes since, with a corridor, expanded kitchen, disabled access added to the toilets and a bar area which has many uses. It’s the main hub for the village, but the fabric does need bringing into the 21st century with all the emphasis on energy saving and sustainability.

‘We can’t afford to stand still or the hall will deteriorate and people won’t be able to use it. The trouble is we’ve not got gas in the village, so it’s expensive to heat. Therefore, it’s important to add insulation and solar panels to keep costs down and make it more economic to run.

‘Overall it has to be a warm and comfortable place where people feel welcome and want to spend their evenings and day times. There are grants which are targeted at green measures, but first the roof needs fixing.’

Tony calls himself an instigator, always finding new issues to tackle, not saying no for an answer and never believing a lack of cash is a barrier: ‘There’re many people in the village who are keen to support us. The hall has a strong future, I’m confident of that – as long as I can persuade younger people to climb up ladders as those days are behind me.’

Alison Cartright-Witts is on her second upholstery class in the hall. She is renewing the chair after it was destroyed by her dog, who passed away.

She said: ‘I was very surprised I could learn upholstery on my doorstep, it’s not a very common class anywhere. This is the best way to do this – in groups and make new friends and meet new people from the village you never see otherwise.’

Leslie Newitt and neighbour Gill Johnson created the warm space. Gill said: ‘We knew there must be cold and lonely people out there.’