AN INTEGRAL village hall in South Lanarkshire has been saved from falling into disrepair after receiving £100,000 worth of grants from a local renewables firm.
Sandford Village Hall near Strathaven – which once hosted popular Scottish entertainer Sir Harry Lauder – has undergone a series of major reworks to improve its accessibility and in turn, secure its future.
The hall was reopened on Friday 26 May 2023 by South Lanarkshire Provost Margaret Cooper, whowas delighted to see so many local residents attend the reopening ceremony.
Banks Renewables has been praised by the Sandford Village Hall Association for contributing major funding for the project from both the Kype Muir Wind Farm Community Partnership Fund (KMCP) and also from the Renewable Energy Fund (REF) which is administered by South Lanarkshire Council.
The grants provided by the firm have now revived the once bustling community hub that had been badly damaged from a build-up of wet and dry rot.
As well as major roof repairs, the hall is now fully accessible due to the upgrade of the adapted toilet, widening of some door frames, and the laying down of hardstanding in the car park and provision for disabled parking.
The hall now also has a brand-new kitchen.
Charlie Leleux, Chairperson of the Sandford Village Hall Association said: “Had the wet and dry rot not been discovered, the hall could have reached the point of no return in a couple of years’ time. Major work was required to transform the building into one that was not only functional, but also safe.
“We needed significant funding to save what once was a thriving hub of music in the local area and we simply didn’t have the means to achieve such huge, but vital repairs.”
Since its establishment in 1928, the hall has hosted many local groups, fitness clubs and even popular performers, making it a talking-point of the village.
It has played a central role within the community over the years, having been used to raise funds for those who needed it during WW2.
In 1942, Sir Harry Lauder – hailed as Scotland’s greatest ever ambassador by Winston Churchill and the first Brit to sell a million records – performed there to Sandford residents.
Charlie hopes that the hub’s transformation will make it even more attractive in the local community and will once again entice top Scottish entertainers to take to the stage.
Charlie said: “It’s thanks to Banks Renewables that the building has now been future proofed for the next 20 years.
“The Banks KMCP and South Lanarkshire Council REF officers couldn’t have done any more to help us in this process – they ultimately made my life a lot easier. Throughout the entire time, they were first class.”
Banks Renewables, a subsidiary of the Banks Group, currently has community funding for ten wind farms, throughout the north of England and Scotland.
Sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables, Robin Winstanley said: “The Sandford Hall project is the perfect embodiment of what we are working to achieve.
“We are committed to investing in local communities to help them grow. It’s clear, just by looking at the wide range of uses the hall provides, how important it is to South Lanarkshire and how impactful the works that have taken place will be in the long run.”
The REF fund, which is distributed by South Lanarkshire Council, and the KMCP fund which is administered by the Banks Community Fund form integral components of Banks Renewables’ Connect2Renewables program, where the family-owned company strives to optimise the economic, social, and environmental benefits of its wind farms in the region.
Provost Cooper said: “The disability access improvements now make the hall more inclusive for everyone in the community to use and, thanks to the collaborative working between the project managers and the contractor, it was great that the refurbishment was successfully delivered within budget.
“This integral community hub is a wonderful project that is vital to the community. Thanks to this work, it will improve the everyday lives of local people both now and well into the future.”
Chris Cassels, chair of the KMCP, said: “It’s hugely rewarding to support this project along with Sandford & Upper Avondale Community Council which is such an important part of village life.
“It is great to see and one of many projects in South Lanarkshire which will give the local community the chance to thrive for many more years to come now that their local hub has been completely transformed and revitalised.”
For additional information about the Sandford Village Hall, visit: Community Organisations – Sandford and Upper Avondale Community Council (suacc.com)
To find out more about the Kype Muir Wind Farm Community Fund visit: https://www.banksgroup.co.uk/corporate-responsibility/banks-community-fund/wind-farms/kype-muir-wind-farm-community-fund/
For more information regarding how to apply for a REF grant, visit: https://www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk/info/200168/getting_involved_in_your_community/744/renewable_energy_fund_grants
For more information on Banks Renewables, visit: https://www.banksgroup.co.uk/renewables/