Ace £200,000 fundraisers ensure a new, greener and warmer future for their Ribble Valley village hall

Determined villagers have raised huge sums, including a Big Lottery award for heating, to upgrade their memorial hall.

Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 1:42 pm

A mammoth fundraising effort has paid off for the determined residents of one Lancashire village.

They are celebrating gaining a Big Lottery grant of £81,500 which will help finance a much needed village hall heating upgrade project, which will also be good for the environment.

In the near future Hurst Green village hall, near Longridge, will be warmed through a modern eco friendly ground source heat pump system.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Those who have spearheaded the drive to transform Hurst Green memorial hall celebrate the Lottery success Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Local fundraisers said the grant was the last piece in a "financial jigsaw" which has also seen village hall supporters raise nearly £56,000 from local fund-raising events and pledges by other grant funders to pay for the heat pump.

The hall on Avenue Road was built by villagers in the 1950s and 1960s as a war memorial hall to honour war casualties from the local parish. But it was in need of major modernisation and renovation work.

Two years ago a project group, comprising parish councillors and members of the village hall committee, was created to devise plans to bring the hall into the 21st century.

Niall Macfarlane, the chairman of the village hall committee, said: “We put forward all sorts of ideas – even the possibility of demolishing the hall and rebuilding elsewhere but there were a lot of obstacles to this, not least opposition from a large number of parishioners.

Fundraisers and supporters of the project to transform the memorial hall at Hurst Green, pictured inside the hall

“Finally, it was decided to refurbish the hall to make it fit for purpose again. The biggest issue was the heating – in winter it can get really cold and draughty, but the roof was the most pressing problem. The concrete tiles were deteriorating and leaking in places so we decided that it should be the priority and we made it phase one."

The heating was phase two and following that it is now hoped sufficient funds can be raised to refurbish the hall's changing rooms for the village football club, upgrade the kitchen and mezzanine floor and install a lift for the disabled.

Niall continued: “When we roughly costed the plans and informed the parishioners that we were looking at raising in excess of £300,000 there were many who said it could not be done. Well, we are well on our way, thanks to our two sterling grants gurus, Barbara Herd and Margaret Carrington, who have put in a staggering amount of work to source grant funding. Up to now they have brought in grants of more than £200,000.”

He added: "Local folk have also pitched in with fund raising through bingo sessions, donating raffle prizes and holding mini auctions and the roof was completely replaced last year at a cost of £72,000, raised through grant aid and the local fund raising. A total of £137,000 was needed for the heating and, in 2018, the Big Lottery was approached."

Derek Harwood. pictured by the bar he has installed in the memorial hall at Hurst Green

Excavations will start in the next few weeks to enable heating coils to be laid under the Bailey Field behind the hall.

Once lockdown is over and local fundraising begins in earnest again local residents will also have something else to say cheers to. The Hall has been fitted with a new bar, bought from the now closed New Drop Inn at nearby Knowle Green. The bar was dismantled, transported, refurbished and re-installed in the hall by Des Harwood,aided by Peter Butterfield and John Taylor.

* In addition to The Big Lottery, funding for the heating project has come from : Garfield Weston,The BA Carbon Fund, Bernard Sunley, Ribble Valley Borough Council,The Harold and Alice Trust,The Craven Trust and The Duchy of Lancaster .

* The Lancashire Post is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. For unlimited access to Lancashire news and information online, you can subscribe here

External view of the memorial hall at Hurst Green