Banks Group grant raises the roof for ATAC Community Hall

September 22, 2013 | Brenkley News

Users of a popular Northumberland community centre can look forward to a warm and dry winter after a £9,000 grant from a local employer helped to pay for the repair of its leaking roof and other building improvements.

The Area Training & Activity Centre (ATAC) Community Hall in Widdrington Station was facing a major bill after a rainstorm revealed a leak in the flat roof. Luckily The Banks Group stepped in to provide the funding required from its Banks Community Fund.

Repairs to the roof, which were carried out by local firm Jar Roofing and which are guaranteed for 20 years, have now been completed, with new wooden cladding added to the exterior of the building to improve the appearance of the exterior walls, and new environmentally efficient lighting systems to two other rooms in the centre.

Many of ATAC’s regular users have already commented on how much better the centre is looking as a result of the work that’s been done, and the management committee is hoping it will encourage even more people to make use of what’s on offer to them.

Additional funding for the improvements was provided by UK Coal, The Warkworth and Amble Rotary Club, Jar Roofing, Infinis and Sir Alan Beith MP.

Serving the villages of Widdrington Station and Stobswood, and surrounding areas of South East Northumberland, ATAC was established in the early 1990s after a derelict building which had previously been the concert room for the local Working Men’s Club was reclaimed and renewed.

It aims to provide a safe, welcoming environment for a wide range of both youth and adult activities, advice and training, and hosts a huge variety of different events and organisations, from IT training and drop-in sessions, youth clubs and a film club through to a book and CD exchange, a Healthy Walking group and a local litter pickers group.

Richard Lillico, chairman of ATAC’s management committee, says: “Even back when we installed the felt roof, we knew that it wouldn’t last forever, but when the full extent of the leak was revealed during a torrential rainstorm, we knew it would be a very costly undertaking to get things repaired.

“The funding that we have received is absolutely invaluable, and it’s a huge boost in our ongoing efforts to build up better facilities at the centre, so that more and more people from across our community will make use of what’s available to them, and we’ve already had lots of positive comments from our current users about how the work that’s been done has improved the look and feel of the whole place.

“The 20 year guarantee that came with the roof repairs gives us some very welcome peace of mind for the future, and we’re now well prepared for whatever the winter weather throws at us!”

The Banks Group has worked in south east Northumberland for more than three decades, and has supported a wide range of community projects in and around the local area over many years.

Banks has recently begun carrying out public consultation on its plans for the Highthorn Surface Mine, which would be located to the east of Widdrington Station, inland from Druridge Bay, and which would sustain over 150 local jobs for more than a decade.

It is currently looking to secure planning permission for additional work at the Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines in south east Northumberland, at which around 200 people are currently employed and which contribute around £35m every year to the local economy through wages and the supply chain.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, adds: “The ATAC Community Hall has a central place in the Widdrington Station community, and the volunteer team that runs it puts a huge amount of effort into providing the best possible facilities they can, so as a local employer with long-terms links to south east Northumberland, we’re very pleased to be able to provide this support.”

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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