Cramlington church hall users see the light thanks to Banks Group grant

June 18, 2013 | Brenkley News

The number of people using a Northumberland church hall has trebled after a grant from a north east developer paid for the completion of a long-planned refurbishment.

The congregation at St Nicholas’ Church in Cramlington carried out a substantial fundraising campaign to fund a refurbishment programme in the church hall nine years ago, but ran out of funds before being able to complete everything that was planned.

Since then, both the hall’s fluorescent lighting system and wooden floor gradually became worn out and were in urgent need of repair.

And now, thanks to a £3,000 grant from Banks Mining, via its Banks Community Fund, a new energy efficient lighting system and replacement wooden floor have been installed in the building.

St Nicholas’ Church Hall is used for a wide variety of activities organised by members of both the church and town communities, ranging from youth groups and Stroke Association meetings through to language classes run by Easy Languages Northumberland.  It also plays host to a monthly community meal, which now attracts around 120 people of all ages to each session.

Arthur Perkins, church warden at St Nicholas’ Church, says: “The church hall is a popular community venue, but we’ve long felt that we could bring even more people in to use it if we were able to complete what we started with our refurbishment and improve the welcome that we thought the facilities provided to our users.

“Installing the new lighting system and floor has done just that, and we’ve seen a really swift and visible increase in the number of people coming through the door, with three times as many users now taking advantage of what we offer.

“The energy efficient nature of the lighting system matches our church’s ethos for minimising the environmental impact of everything we do, and the feedback we’ve had from the users of the hall has been fantastic from day one.

“The money Banks has provided would have taken us a great deal of time and effort to raise ourselves, and has enabled us to create the welcoming atmosphere that we’d long been looking for, so we’re all very grateful for their contribution to our work.”

Banks is currently looking to secure planning permission for additional work at the nearby Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines, at which around 200 people are currently employed and which contribute around £20m every year to the local economy through wages and the supply chain.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “Places like St Nicholas’ Church hall play a central part in the lives of their communities, offering a home for a range of groups which involve and support so many local people, and we’re very pleased that our funding has made such a difference to the welcome that the venue offers to all its users.”

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

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