County’s communities celebrate Village Halls Week

9th Jan 2018

County’s communities celebrate Village Halls Week

Northumberland’s village halls are joining together to celebrate the first ever national #VillageHallsWeek, starting Monday 22 January, to celebrate the vital role they play in sustaining rural communities.

The week-long celebration, organised by ACRE Network, England’s largest network of rural community support organisations, is to say a collective “thank you” to all volunteers who work tirelessly to keep community buildings and village halls open for the benefit of local residents.

A wide range of events are being held across Northumberland to celebrate the week, ranging from coffee mornings, an energy saving roadshow and a job fair helping local people get back into work.

Village Halls and other Community Buildings play a key role in reducing isolation in rural communities through providing a meeting place for local residents. However, it’s not all coffee mornings and knitting classes/proggy mat making as some might expect. Some of the more unusual activities offered include Zumba classes, Tai-Chi, star gazing nights and baby massage classes.

There are 10,000 village halls and other community buildings in England’s rural communities, of which 240 can be found right across Northumberland.

Diverse uses of Northumberland village halls

Village halls, church halls and other community buildings remain a vital resource at the heart of many rural communities, acting as a hub for multiple local services and hosting community enterprises.

Some of the diverse examples in Northumberland include Seahouses Hub which has a thriving community cinema, showing all the latest films in addition to free internet access and a lending library. Rothbury Jubilee Institute also has a monthly cinema – and film showings are popular in even the smallest of halls.  There are halls with Post Offices - including Kirkwhelpington Village Hall and Whalton Village Hall. Capheaton Village Hall has a thriving café, popular with cyclists. Harbottle Village hall hosts an outreach GP surgery and Bellingham Town Hall has a library on the ground floor. Some host sports facilities such as Lesbury Village Hall and Longhoughton Sports & community centre.

An estimated 600 halls were built nationally to commemorate World War I, or those individuals who perished during that conflict such as those locally at Boulmer and Corsenside. Some of Northumberland’s oldest halls date back to the 19th Century, and many were originally ‘Reading Rooms’ – established to ‘educate the workers’, and some are Mechanics Institutes or Memorial halls.

2018's newest hall

2018 will see the opening of the newest, St Mary’s Village Hall in Stannington, following the refurbishment of the former St Mary’s Hospital Chapel. The new facility will act as a hub for those living in this new rural community having been gifted by Bellway Homes on an 80-year lease.

CAN provides a community buildings service offering support and advice for trustees managing community buildings, led by Louise Currie, Community Initiatives Officer.
Louise praised the initiative:

“We’re delighted to celebrate the tireless work carried out by the amazing volunteers running community buildings in our county.  Without their dedication, skills and expertise, these vital facilities would be lost to the communities they serve. We are proudly supporting #VillageHallsWeek so we can celebrate the network of halls we have locally, champion the services they offer to their communities and say a big thank you to the volunteers at the heart of it all.”

It is hoped this week of celebration will also inspire others to support their own hall, or even volunteer to help it. 

Northumberland #Villagehallweek events

ELLINGHAM VILLAGE HALL is hosting a coffee morning on Friday 19th January 10.30am-12.30pm to raise funds for new curtains/blinds and furniture for their proposed new hall.

LONGHOUGHTON Community and Sports Centre is hosting an energy event ‘’Winter Warmer’’ on Wednesday 24th January from 12noon, which will include a light lunch then an energy-saving roadshow with information and freebies.

BEADNELL WOMEN’S INSTITUTE HALL is holding a coffee morning on Wednesday 24th January offering coffee (+refill) and a freshly made scone for £1.50, plus a book exchange and home sewn/knitted stall all to raise funds for the building.

CAMBO VILLAGE HALL on Saturday 27th January 10.30am–12 is holding a 'bake sale’ to raise funds to help mend the church clock.

KIRKWHELPINGTON Village Hall have two events on Saturday 27th January. From 10.30am- 12 is their regular ‘Last Saturday’ coffee morning, an informal opportunity for friends and neighbours to get together for a chat over a cuppa and homemade cake. In the evening at 7.30pm is Burns Night supper at the Hall with the traditional ceremony, music and country dancing, as well as the customary haggis, neeps and tatties.

SEASHOUSES HUB is hosting an ‘Employment and Business Opportunity Event’ on Tuesday 30th January (3pm-7.30pm). The event is aimed at people looking for training or careers advice and for local businesses trying to attract staff or funding to expand their business.

LONGHIRST VILLAGE HALL is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the re-opening of its refurbished Village Hall with a Village supper on Saturday 3rd February 7pm. Join the party to celebrate what this community venture has achieved and contribute your ideas for a ‘Birthday Present’ for the Village Hall.