Sun, 08 Oct 2017
VILLAGERS who clubbed together to upgrade a community asset celebrated the fruits of their labour last month.
Stanford Dingley celebrated the re-opening of its village hall on September 23, following a year-long refurbishment project.
The building, known as the club room, dates back to the early 20th century and was last worked on around 40 years ago.
After contentious plans to sell the hall and fund the construction of a new one foundered, due to issues surrounding a covenant, plans to refresh the hall were put into action.
Following a year’s work, the club room, which seats around 40 people, now boasts a new kitchen, disabled toilet, storage, heating, lighting and furniture.
The project, which cost around £20,000, helped through grants from West Berkshire Council and the Greenham Trust, saw £10,000 of pro bono contributions from village volunteers.
The village’s most recent addition, Barnaby Comrie, and senior resident, Lady Marion Body, a former Bletchley Park codebreaker, conducted the opening last month.
Vice-chairman of Stanford Dingley Parish Council Chris Dent said that the much-needed upgrade had made a big difference.
“It’s a warm, welcoming room now, whereas before it was pretty grim,” he said.
“What’s been good about the project is the skills to do the work came from within the village.
“It just shows what you can do.
“We are a comparatively small community and it’s surprising that you can get so much from a small community.”
However, Mr Dent noted that the village couldn’t get hold of plasterers and that Thatcham Glass had carried out the reglazing work.
Mr Dent said that negotiations to install fibre optic broadband in the hall were ongoing and, if successful, would open it up for wider community use.
“I think, in these cash-strapped times, other communities could be looking at what skills and expertise they already have in their community,” he said.
“With relatively small external capital injections, great things can be accomplished when a community defines what they want to achieve and takes ownership for its success though personal contribution.”