31 Oct 2008

Stan's great speech about Randwick Village Hall

Randwick Village Hall recently opened it's doors to show folk the measures undertaken to turn it into the countries first carbon neutral village hall - now Wap Mayor Stan Giles (see photo) has kindly given permission to publish here a copy of the notes for his speech - I loved hearing some of the background and wanted to share it wider with locals and others alike.

See write up of the hall opening here and here - and here Alan Tomlinson's speech about the measures undertaken and here more about the Open Homes weekend.

The hall has since been short-listed for a SW award - see here - anyway let's get to that speech....

Welcome everyone to a very special occasion. Thanks to the many who contributed ideas and support for the project- District Council, Green Shop and Philip Booth.

September is an auspicious month for the hall as so many important events appear to have occurred at this time of year.

The Hall started in March 1946, when The Randwick Village Hall and Playing field Fund was formed with Mr W.L.Paul of Longcourt as chairman. It took three years to raise the funds to purchase the field. Apart from dances, bazaars and whist drives, a donation of £47.00 was received from Randwick, Australia and £162.00 from the Combined Services Social Committee, an organisation which existed to improve the lives of service personnel after World War 2.

By April 1949, £800 had been raised (approx. £18.000 today) and a public meeting was called to finalise the details and plans, which included appointing new officers, and agreeing that the Parish Council should hold the land in trust. This was to ensure continuity and was obviously successful as there has been continuity ever since. The land, which is directly in front of the hall,was purchased from Mr. Wheeler for £250.00 (£5,700).

The following September there was an opening ceremony carried out by the Bishop of Gloucester- I’m afraid he wasn’t available today and neither was the Agent General of New South Wales, who represented Randwick Australia. An interesting reminder of those austere times - and perhaps a pointer for today - is a record in the minutes of the Secretary having to visit the “food office” “to obtain information on a ration allowance for the tea on September 10th.” Let us hope the W.I have been equally well organised.

There was still no Village Hall, however, and in 1951 the Church Room on the corner of the Lane became available and this was purchased and used for the next 11 years. In May 1952, the committee felt it had achieved its aims and a new committee was elected at a public meeting and soon became the Randwick Social Committee. Mr Scriven, Chair, Mrs. Wehner (vicar’s wife) Secretary and Mrs Ashmead as treasurer.

In 1957, £25.00 (£400.00) was transferred to a separate fund for building a new village hall. At the December AGM in 1958 new officers were elected ( Harry Keene-chair, Mr Axford- vice-chair, Mr H.A- Spud- Taylor Secretary, Mr Wheeler- asst secretary and Barton Haines as treasurer. The next five years were full of activity - dances, carol singing, horticultural show, bazaars and the legendary house to house collection every week to collect subscriptions of sixpence- 21/2p (40p today).

By March 1962 £2000.00 ( £30,500) had been raised and grants had been negotiated. In September - that month again - building started but there was a very severe winter and the work was delayed. The building was officially opened on 26th September 1963, 45 years ago within a week.

The cost of the hall, furniture, equipment and fees was £4,600 (£65,000) of which £2,500 (£35,000) had been raised in the village and the remainder funded by grants. The use of the hall increased and gave the impetus for several new organisations, including the Youth Club, Over 60s, Play Group and a re-formed Cricket Club. The Car Park was completed in 1965, the same year that planning commenced for an extension and the old village hall was sold. There is a particularly bureaucratic wrangle over the money, which took seven years to resolve and resulted in the Parish Council paying the committee £229.00 - the cost of a new roundabout.

So a new phase in the life of the Hall begins. In researching the hall, there seems to me to be two underlying themes which run through its history and are so indicative of life in our wonderful village, so recently celebrated on ITV through Alec Alder’s efforts.

The first theme is of community - throughout its development, villagers have been consulted, responses and anxieties respected and the hall adapted to changing demands and expectations of users. It is, in my opinion, one of the most beautifully sited halls in the county and the present improvements have been achieved with a positive impact on our environment and provide an example of environmentally sensitive development and improvement.

The other theme is the need for a committed, hard working and enthusiastic committee, members of which give their time and energies freely and willingly, and I feel the present committee more than adequately continue that tradition so a special thank you to Mort, Alan, Val and Harden for bringing plans and ideas to such a positive conclusion. Bring them forward for a round of applause.

And indeed there was much applause and then the ribbon cut to allow us to enter - 150 people attended the opening and over 400 visited the hall during the day.

No comments: