Plans for refurbishment
Ambitious plans to refurbish the Parish Hall were announced at the 2010 AGM held last night. Under new ownership since the end of June, the present Committee are working on an estimated £100,000 scheme to incorporate a new ‘industrial’ kitchen, new toilets and disabled facilities and an area for the use of the young people of Whitchurch. Although still in the early stages, the Chairman of the Hall’s Development Committee said they hoped for new double-glazed windows, new flooring a lower ceiling and changes to the stage layout as well as a full internal decoration.
The exciting plans would be carried out in stages and may take up to a year.

Possible Parish Hall proposals with a lower roof and stage alterations

Low attendance but looking ahead
The meeting was opened by Chairman Bill Judge who said that three years ago over 70 people had attended the AGM, and while this evening’s attendance was barely 20 this he said “showed that the community had confidence in the Committee” and that interest in the Hall was still there.
Mr Judge went on to say that “the Committee will need to look more broadly to the community” and added that it would “work with other organisations”.
Finally he thanked Gill Webb who had stepped down as Chairperson and presented her with a small gift to applause from those present.

Whitchurch Parish Hall - refurbishments planned

Financially secure
The Hall is on a secure financial footing and retiring Treasurer Nick Reynolds answered several questions from the floor. A new Constitution is being developed and Councillor Keith Watts advised using a Charity Commission model. It is hoped this will be available for viewing by the community prior to adoption at a public meeting.

Publicity needs improvement
Concerns were expressed about publicity and that the AGM was not advertised well, with the Parish Hall’s own website not being up-to-date and showing incorrect information. There was also much discussion on a possible ‘Friends of the Parish Hall’ group to encourage support together with a call for younger members to join the Committee.

The Friday Market
The much commented on Friday Market being held on the same day and at exactly the same time as the one at the Gill Nethercott Centre raised a few hackles as being “not in the spirit of cooperation” but Mr Judge stated that it was not the Committee’s role to control such activities – it was up to the Market organisers as tenants of the Hall. Suggestions were made that it move to another time but nothing was resolved at the meeting.
Town Councillor Dave Titcomb asked that the Hall “not be rooted in the past”.

A special place
Clearly the Committee will have a tough job if they don’t gain the community support they need, while their plans will require much local and grant funding if they are to come to fruition. There are other good venues in the town ranging from the various church halls and other smaller meeting places to the modern Gill Nethercott Centre and the well-equipped Testbourne Theatre. However the Parish Hall holds a special place in many people’s hearts and with good management and its exciting refurbishment it is hoped that it will become a major local venue for the town.

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As there were no new nominations, the existing Committee were re-elected unopposed:
Gill Webb
Bill Judge
Nick Reynolds
Liz Dermody
Rod Clarke

Group representatives:
Gill Clarke (Silver Threads)
Nancy Miller (Youth Project)
Phil Cooper (Friday Market)
Dave Titcombe (Town Council)
June Ewing (Town’s Women’s Guild)

Co-opted members will be discussed at the first Committee meeting.

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The Whitchurch.org.uk editorial team wishes to thank George Smith for permission to use the Parish Hall drawing (above) produced by Andrew Steeden, York Associates of Test Road.