Villagers celebrated the grand reopening of Warnham Village Hall at the weekend after the completion of £200,000 renovation works.
Around 50 people including users, residents, and members of the building’s management committee attended the special celebratory event in Hollands Way on Saturday November 8.
The project, which has taken around a decade to complete due in part to the difficulty in securing funding, included refurbishment of the entrance, toilet, kitchen and meeting room facilities.
Stuart Ritchie, chairman of the village hall’s management committee, said: “It gives the residents of Warnham a village hall in which they can take great pride in, and it gives them a village hall in which it’s all about providing space for community groups and also helps to deliver a wide range of services. It facilitates local groups in being viable.”
The original village hall opened in 1892 with the new hall built on the same site in 1972 and unveiled in 1973.
An extension to the building has allowed it to provide a meeting room and new toilets, including disabled and baby changing facilities, and a new entrance.
The pre-school now has its own dedicated facilities, regular users have more storage space, and they have taken the opportunity to significantly upgrade their kitchen.
The smaller ‘North Hall’ has also been refurbished.
The meeting room has been named The Hodgson Room to recognise the contribution of the Hodgson family to the hall over the years, especially county and parish councillor Mick Hodgson who sadly passed away last August.
Mick’s widow Gytha Hodgson helped unveil the new-look hall, and said: “He would have been absolutely delighted. He was very community minded and the village was very close to his heart.”
Mr Ritchie added: “I took Mick’s eldest son Ben around the hall a month ago and firstly he thought all the changes were very well thought out, and second he thought his father would be pleased.”
Mick’s parents Geoffrey and Sheila were involved in the original 1972 project.
Mr Ritchie thanked the entire management committee, in particular its treasurer Hilary Farquhar, Action in Rural Sussex’s village halls advisor Louise Beaton for her help, and Roo Ball for designing the artwork on the village hall’s logo.
Mrs Farquhar said: “It’s nice to see this come to fruition, it’s much more user friendly.”
Reverend Christopher Loveless, vicar of Warnham’s St Margaret’s Church who also sits on the hall’s management committee, added: “It’s been a great community effort and a lot of very hard work.”
Mr Ritchie led a toast to the completion of the project and received a round of applause from the attendees for leading the successful project.
Mrs Hodgson officially unveiled the new foundation stone in the entrance lobby, while Reverend Loveless blessed the renovated hall.
The works were made possible through funding from Warnham Parish Council, the Hodgson Legacy, more than £10,000 from Warnham residents directly, the Gatwick Area Conservation Trust, and the National Lottery.
They hope to replace the flat roof and many of the windows and have received money for this from West Sussex County Council’s Big Society Fund, as well as increasing bookings to keep the village hall viable.
For more information visit www.warnhamvillagehall.co.uk