Curtains up at Stannington village hall thanks to latest Banks Group grant

March 27, 2013 | Brenkley News


Visitors to “the best village hall in Northumberland” are in the dark about a regional developer’s latest donation to its upkeep – and they’re very happy about it.

A new set of stage curtains and new blackout curtains for all the windows in Stannington Village Hall have been installed thanks to a £7,500 grant from The Banks Group, via its Brenkley Lane Surface Coal Mine Community Fund.

The new drapes have replaced a number of aging sets, many of which had become worn through and let light into the building when it wasn’t wanted, such as during events and film shows.

Stannington Village Hall plays host to a wide range of activities organised by members of the local community and people from further afield, from Irish and Highland dancing competitions, pantomimes and discos through to bowls, badminton and bridge clubs.  It can seat up to 150 people, and is used on average for at least 170 hours every month.

The funding for the curtains is the latest in a long series of donations given by Banks to the hall, in recognition of the company’s close relationship with an area where it has worked for more than three decades and where it currently operates the nearby Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface mines, which employ around 200 people.

The resurfacing of the village hall’s car park, the refurbishment of its toilet block and the construction of an extension and storage room have all been supported by donations from Banks, which has given a total of almost £200,000 to community groups and initiatives in and around Stannington over the last decade, and just under £900,000 to projects in south east Northumberland over the same period.

Tom Worswick, chairman and treasurer of the Stannington Village Hall Management Committee, says: “The state of the curtains had become especially noticeable during events where we needed to keep the light out, such as stage shows or film shows, and it was having a real impact on the functions we were holding.

“The new curtains have made a great difference to how the hall looks, and in terms of both its appearance and the facilities we can offer, we really think it’s the best village hall in the county.

“With so many different groups using the hall and so many different functions taking place, it would be easy for it to begin to look tired very quickly, so we need to work hard to keep things up the right standard.  Banks has very kindly helped us do this over many years and in many different ways, and this latest funding they’ve provided has made a tremendous difference to us.”

Banks 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.  The company is also in the early stages of community discussions and investigation into securing additional work at the nearby Shotton and Brenkley sites.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, says: “Stannington can be proud to not only have such a fantastic community facility, but to also have so many people who do so much to make it what it is, and as a company that has long-standing links with the area, we’re very pleased to be part of this.”

Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact Christina Rackley at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.

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