March 5, 2015 | Brenkley News
Residents of all ages in a Northumberland village can now enjoy new facilities after the completion of a successful campaign to build a new community room at the local school.
Villagers of all ages in Stannington have been working for over a year to raise the £60,000 required to undertake the project, which has been designed to both improve the facilities available to local children and provide additional space alongside the well-used village hall in which community events can be held.
A committee was set up in early 2014 to look at the financial and logistical challenges they needed to overcome to make the plans a reality, and since then, a sustained fundraising campaign has been carried out by local people to bring in the funds required.
The campaign received a significant boost through a £10,000 grant from local employer The Banks Group, via the Community Fund linked to its nearby Brenkley Lane Surface Mine, alongside a personal £5,000 donation from Lord Ridley, and having passed the £60,000 target, the new room has now been put in place.
The community room is a wood-clad, pre-fabricated building which has its own kitchen and bathroom facilities, as well as decking and a ramp to ensure it is fully accessible to all.
It is now being used as the new home of the local scouts and cubs groups, and will also host a wide range of community functions, school event and lessons.
Dave Hepton, a member of the project committee alongside Brent Kilmurray, Beverley Raimes, Brian Smiles, Claire Dungait and Stannington First School head teacher Helen Stokoe, says: “We’re lucky to have a fantastic village hall in Stannington, but we felt that, with it being so busy, we needed to find some extra capacity for community events and organisations.
The whole village backed the fundraising drive from the off with great enthusiasm and dedication, and to see the community room in place is a fantastic reward for everyone’s hard work.
“We’ve seen lots of young families move into Stannington over the last few years, and enhancing the facilities that are available locally to them in this way, as well as what’s available to the school and community groups, will make a real positive difference to their lives for years to come.
“Banks’ generous support for this project is hugely appreciated – we simply wouldn’t have been able to go ahead with it as quickly as we wanted to without it, and would have to have spent a good deal more time raising the amount of money they’ve provided.”
Banks currently employs over 200 people across the Brenkley Lane and nearby Shotton surface mine sites, which jointly contribute around £35m to the regional economy every year through wages, investments and the local supply chain, as well as more than £400,000 in annual business rates to Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council.
They have also enabled Banks to donate around £800,000 to local groups and good causes in Northumberland over the last decade alone through the Banks Community Fund.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, says: “This is a fantastic community project that will provides real long-term opportunities and benefits to people of all ages in Stannington, and we’re extremely happy to continue our support for the Stannington community and to help them to realise their ambitions.”
The Banks Brenkley Lane Community Fund provides grants for community groups, voluntary organisations and environmental projects in the vicinity of Banks’ Brenkley Lane surface Coal Mine. Any local groups interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.