February 19, 2013 | Brenkley News
Work on the first phase of the refurbishment of a well-used village hall has been finalised after a regional developer stepped in to meet the cost of an unexpected five-figure bill.
The Banks Group had already committed to providing £30,000 from its Banks Community Fund to fund the complete refurbishment of the entrance and adjacent toilets at Dinnington Village Hall, near Seaton Burn.
The unexpected discovery of asbestos in the building as work began on the project and the high cost of its removal left the Village Hall committee around £12,500 short of the funds they needed to complete the planned work, but after becoming aware of the situation, Banks has stepped in to bridge the funding gap.
Double glazed windows, a suspended ceiling, a fully accessible disabled toilet and improved facilities in the gents toilets have all been added to the flat-roofed building at the front of the Hall which houses its bathroom facilities.
The entrance’s walls have also been repointed and insulated, which the Hall’s management committee members have said has already made a tremendous difference to the atmosphere inside it.
Originally built in 1923 by public subscription, Dinnington Village Hall is the only community facility available in the village, and is used by local people aged between two and 93 years old.
It plays host to a wide range of groups and events, from cubs, guides and a toddler play group to tai chi and yoga classes, the village bowls club and an over 50s exercise class. It also hosts functions for the village church, which doesn’t have a hall of its own.
The work that has now been carried out is part of a long-term refurbishment plan for the Hall, with work already beginning to raise money to insulate the whole building and add new double glazing and guttering.
Joyce Porter, secretary of the Dinnington Village Hall Management Committee, says: “Even with the best efforts of everyone involved with the Hall, the facilities in a well-used building of this age will naturally deteriorate over time, and this was especially the case around the toilet block, which has had very little attention since it was added in 1969.
“We’ve had a great deal of support from across the community for our refurbishment plans, and for taking this first stage on as a stand-alone project, but having to cope with the unexpected cost of removing asbestos from the building meant that there was a real threat that we wouldn’t be able to proceed as planned.
“Banks had already been more than generous in the support that they’d given us, so to have them step in and do even more is a wonderful gesture, and everyone is extremely grateful for their contribution.
“The change that this work has brought about has been nothing short of astounding. Improving the entrance to the Hall makes for a much more welcoming atmosphere as people come in, and we can’t believe just how much it’s helped to transform the whole place.”
Councillor Ian Laverick, who represents the Castle Ward on Newcastle City Council in which Dinnington is situated, adds: “It’s amazing what difference the new entrance hall and much improved toilet block facilities have made to the building and the community. I can only praise the efforts of Dinnington Hall Management Committee, and give many thanks to Banks who have stepped in, contributed and supported phase one of the refurbishments.”
Banks has worked in the local area for more than three decades and currently operates the nearby Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface mines, which employ around 200 people.
The company is currently looking to secure planning permission for the proposed Ferneybeds surface mine, which would be located to the south of the village of Widdrington Station, around three miles north west of Ashington, and which would directly support around 40 local jobs.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, says: “Dinnington Village Hall is truly at the heart of a thriving community, and our support for this project recognises both the energy and enthusiasm that so many local people put into making the venue what it is, and our own long-held commitment to supporting our local communities by delivering tangible long term benefits and improvements to their facilities.”
Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact Pauline Johnson at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.