This report has two distinct sections, before Covid and after the outbreak.
Until March 16th 2020, the village hall had continued to be a well-used activity venue.
Yoga classes had become very popular and our hall is perfect for them. We had Hay Yoga on Tuesday and Thursday mornings; Hatha Yoga on Tuesday evenings and we’d also had two Hay Yoga workshops on Saturdays with more in prospect.
Pilates classes on Monday nights have now been running for three years and the JUMP ballet classes for children after school on Wednesdays for four years. These activities have provided hugely valuable income streams.
Bookings for parties and wedding receptions were continuing strongly. The hall looks amazingly special when dressed up for these events due to the high standards of maintenance and cleanliness that we provide, along with our outstanding facilities above and beyond other halls in the area.
Five-star reviews keep coming in for us on the Halls for Hire website.
Our modern kitchen facilities are now well established and have proved very popular, winning the approval of professional caterers at many of the events this year.
Free Wi-Fi in the hall, installed this year, adds even more rental potential, extending our potential user market and we thank the Parish Council for their contribution towards the cost.
The latest addition to our facilities, in January, was a new projector unit and a large screen kindly donated in memory of Val Duck by Peter Duck and his family. The family bought the equipment and installed it in the village hall on 26th February to enable a live relay of Val’s funeral service from St Peter’s Church. More than 100 mourners filled the church and 50 more watched in the village hall. We sent the Ducks our warmest condolences and many thanks.
As a committee we had regular fund raising events continuing to operate our policy of a 50:50 split of the proceeds with a chosen charity.
During the year we held another Tea for Tinnitus, a Quiz Night for Acorns Children’s Hospice and an Xmas Fayre for Alzheimer’s Research UK. I would like to thank everyone who helped out in some way for making these events a great success. In total, we raised £445 for the charities and the same for the village hall.
Unfortunately, not all initiatives were successful. The proposed quarterly “Popup” restaurant did not go ahead due to opposition from some residents with concerns about parking and unfounded fears of an influx of outsiders coming into the village. As a committee, we felt this was a great shame; this was an initiative to try to raise some community spirit and tackle the rising issue of loneliness within the community. Indeed at the time of cancellation all bookings were from Abbots Morton residents.
Support for the hall from local residents has continued to grow and we look forward to further involvement by residents in the coming year. If you shop online, one easy way to help is to register with EasyFundraising and name ‘Abbots Morton Village Hall’ as the cause you want to support. Retailers pay a small percentage of your spend to our account and to date our 23 EasyFundraisers have raised £680.
Amazon have also started making donations through Amazon Smile… and to date they’ve sent us £11.74.
New energy-efficient lights have been installed in the village hall. The old fluorescent strip lights throughout the building were replaced with LED strips bringing electricity savings of around 70%. We are grateful to Wychavon District Council for a grant of £1,359 through its New Homes Bonus scheme and to Abbots Morton Parish Council for a grant of £500. We would also like to thank County Councillor Anthony Hopkins for a £300 grant from his Divisional Fund and to our village hall committee member, Sarah Dykes for her gift of £150 towards the project which cost a total of £2,653. The village hall funds contributed £344.50.
Your support for the village hall brings in essential income which we put to good use in maintaining and improving the fabric of the building. In July we employed WomenBuild to repaint all the wooden window frames and the woodwork at the main entrance.
Regular servicing of necessary systems and safety tests continue in their timely fashion.
Our next project is to replace the outdated and inefficient heating system in the hall. It’s a major project and research is currently underway to make sure we make the best choice.
We are delighted to have two new Trustees.
We first welcomed Pat Willingale to the Village Hall Committee. Pat’s husband Martin, who sits on the Parish Council, then agreed to be a Parish Council representative on the CH Committee. Husband and wife teams can be very effective and we know that the duo from Chestnut cottage will bring humour, enthusiasm and expertise to the committee.
We are eternally grateful to Sarah Dykes for taking on the role as Treasurer. With her usual efficiency, Sarah has kept our accounts fully auditable, with regular spreadsheets and cost awareness projects and updates. Many thanks again to Tim Jones, our auditor, for the end of year audit/ balance.
As always the unfading commitment of the Pembertons to the success of the VH does not go un-noted. Colin takes on more than his fair share as PRO and Bookings Officer, regularly showing our facilities to potential hirers, locking and unlocking at events. Lynne, as Secretary, keeps us up to date and informed of local and UK VH initiatives, making sure we meet our obligations.
We would like to say a big Thank You to Antony Bunce, who has stepped down from the village hall committee because of other commitments. We’re grateful for Antony’s insights and particularly all his work over the years in bringing us Band Nights and Indian Summers.
Thanks also go to a former resident Phil Farmiloe who, although now living in Abberton, continues to pay for the springtime cutting of our main hedge. Thank you Phil.
Coronavirus Covid – 19
On March 5th, aware of our responsibilities to provide a safe space for users, we put up notices on the entrance doors urging all users to go straight to the washrooms on entry and thoroughly wash their hands, and similarly to wash hands before leaving. The Hirers were responsible for using clinical-grade wipes which we provided to wipe down all door and toilet handles before they left. This was a responsible approach to leave the hall in a condition that the next users would like to see.
However, eleven days later on March 16th, we took the decision to close the hall. At the same time users were cancelling their bookings.
This has obviously has had repercussions for our finances. Some hirers have been happy for us to hold on to the deposits they had paid in anticipation of holding their event at some point in the future. Others have had their deposits and fee refunded.
Our income loss, assuming we don’t re-open before the end of November, will be £2,376.
We are continuing to pay bills. Since we closed on March 16th we have paid out a total of £367 and we will obviously continue to pay further bills as they come in.
We have always been working on the basis that our annual running costs are at least £2,000 and we had, until Covid, been keeping our heads well above water, indeed investing surpluses into new developments and improvements to the hall.
As of Monday this week we had £2,023 in our main account and we faced an ongoing depletion of our funds.
Earlier this month, to help small businesses, the Government set up a one-off COVID 19 Small Business Grant of £10,000. We were advised by Wychavon District Council that village halls were eligible to register for it and we duly registered for it on 13th May.
I’m very pleased to say that the £10,000 grant was deposited in the village hall’s Treasurer’s Account this Tuesday morning (26th May).
Our account now stands at £12,023 and the Instant Access Account stands at £718.
The grant gives us financial security and shields us from the potential for substantial loss of income from Covid closure, which would have seriously threatened our plans for major investment in a new, energy-efficient heating and hot water.
It had been another year of progress, quality upgrading and financial stability. We have handled the Covid closure well and we will now be working intently to ensure a safe and smooth re-opening of the hall, whenever that may be.
Chair, Abbots Morton Village Hall