Lottery grant to build new community hall

Sue Lucas and Sally Simpkin , who have been part of the village hall committee in Huntingfield, hav

Sue Lucas and Sally Simpkin , who have been part of the village hall committee in Huntingfield, have just been awarded £471,440 from the Big Lottery to build a new village hall. - Credit: Archant

Plans to build a hall to serve three rural Suffolk communities have been given a boost to the tune of nearly half a million pounds.

The Big Lottery has awarded Huntingfield Parish Council with £471,440, who, along with neighbouring Ubbeston and Heveningham parish councils put forward plans for a hall to serve all three villages.

The new modern, purpose build hall will be the only one of its size within a five mile radius, featuring disabled toilets, a baby changing area and a kitchen.

The existing ex army hut in Huntingfield has served as a village hall since 1918 and will be demolished. Planned activities at the hall include craft classes, carpet bowls, and events for younger people.

There are also plans for the site of the old hall to be turned into a children’s playground and garden.

Sue Lucas, chairman of the New Village Hall Committee, said: “We won’t miss having to sit in coats with gloves, scarves and hats to keep warm at meetings in the winter.

“Having toilets accessible for everyone will be a real bonus as well.

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“The new hall will enable services to come to us, which will make a big difference, particularly to the young and old in the village. Being awarded this grant is the culmination of hours of hard work from many volunteers.

“We started about five years ago and have been on a roller coaster since. Representatives from all three villages have come together to turn the dream into reality with the help of the local community that we’ve involved throughout the journey.”

Sally Simpkin, vice-chairman of the committee and vice-chairman of Huntingfield Parish Council said it was “big news for a small village.”

She said: “It’s been a long time coming but worth the wait and worth the effort. The old hall was meant to have a shelf life of 20 years. We were concerned that if we had heavy snow that the roof would have caved in!”

Building will commence in June, and is expected to take six to eight months.

Tim Davies-Pugh, Big Lottery Fund deputy director of England, said: “These halls will provide vital hubs in rural areas which will bring people together to enjoy activities, hobbies and learn new skills. Our reaching communities programme helps communities and people most in need and we’re pleased to make awards to these worthwhile projects across the region.”