Much Hoole finally has a new village hall after decades of fundraising - and here's what you can expect
A 20-year dream to build a new village hall in Much Hoole has finally been realised.
A grand opening was held at the weekend for The Venue, Hoole Village Memorial Hall off Liverpool Old Road, where hundreds of people finally got to see the new building in all of its glory.
The newbuild replaces the dilapidated original hall on the site, which was erected in 1952 as a memorial to those lost in the First and Second World Wars, and only meant to be a temporary structure.
>>>Click here to read how borough council funding helped the project over the line.
As the building fell into decline, a fundraising campaign was launched for a new venue.
In the past seven years, the project really began to accelerate under the leadership of a dedicated working group made up of volunteers, many of whom are experienced businessmen.
In total, they managed to raise more than £600,000 for the build, through local fundraising and donations from residents and businesses, the sale of land and relocation of the village Scout hut, £300,000 came from the Parish Council and South Ribble Borough Council gave a grant of £50,000 and low-interest 20 year loan of £150,000. Thousands was also raised through exhibition snooker matches featuring professional Ian McCulloch.
>>>Click here to read how the parish council has raised funds.
Alan Taylor, who has been part of the working group for 10 years, said: "We are all very relieved that we've got it over the line, especially with Covid, and we feel that we've done a good job.
"It's taken a lot of hard work and to-ing and fro-ing, but I'm not grumbling, I've enjoyed it, as have the others. We have a facility that we can be really proud of now."
Mr Taylor paid tribute to the work of architect Richard Bramley who has "given enormous help and guidance" and Harry Sutton of SA Estates, who were the main contractors.
He added: "At the grand opening every single person loved it. It's a cracking job."
The building has a professional-standard catering kitchen, disabled toilets, a defibrillator, two bars, a terrace looking out onto the bowling green, and several meeting rooms of different sizes, which can be made bigger or smaller with the introduction of sliding walls.
One of the smaller lounges is dedicated to the memory of those lost in war, with two new paintings adorning the wall, donated by Hutton artist Mal Grosse.
Already 400 people have signed up to a £5 annual membership, which gives them 10 per cent off at the bar, and the weekly schedule of regular classes hiring space has "exceeded the business plan".
Mr Taylor said: "With the way it's gone since we've opened, we are confident we will easily pay the loan back".
The building is being run by a team of volunteers apart from the mother and daughter team Sam Croll and Sarah Belle who run the bar at the Poppy Lounge.
Consultation is now underway for Phase 2 of the building. The local community have been asked what they would rather see fundraising for - a new snooker hall extension or refurbishing the tennis court area into a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) area, both costing in the region of £110,000.
There are also plans to overhaul the car park area, which is expected to cost a "significant sum". Uneven rubble remains where the old building was demolished earlier in the year.
Kicking off the next round of fudnraising is a time capsule initiative, being held until October. Mr Taylor is giving around 100 people people the chance to drop off a container of items to be buried next to the Venue for 100 years. The cost to be involved is £20 per entry.
For details, email: [email protected]