Catherine Stirling-Hill sends some notes our way to chat about the charity’s Annual General Meeting, scheduled for today Wednesday the 24th of April, 7:30pm in the Main Hall (while the Gardening Society holds their quarterly meeting in the New Hall):
“Marking another year at Allendale Village Hall & Recreation Ground has both joy and purpose.
Spring has sprung (at last) and the snowdrops and daffodils blooming in the Recreation Ground give way to the sounds of birds building nests and children playing on the zipwire and the swings, with little ones enjoying the new climbing Beech Tower. Visitors remind us how lucky we are to have this green park, given so many years ago by generous benefactors, including Billy and June Simpson. We celebrated many years of the Park last September; an opportunity to thank the many people since who have loved and created this space for us.
With gifts come responsibility, for all of us, and we continue our inspection regime, both weekly and annually, aiming to ensure the park is safe and damage-free for all our users. Each of us has a share in caring for it: picking up rubbish; making sure dogs stay in the permitted areas to protect our children; helping our children to enjoy and appreciate the park by taking care of it; as well as playing and spending time in it with their friends and families. We thank our caretaker, Gordon for doing so many of the (so often invisible) jobs which keep it safe and beautiful: clearing out the gutters; spreading grit on icy surfaces; emptying bins; checking the equipment.
Potential hirers eye the green space outside as a unique attraction; we have hosted parties, festivals and weddings whose celebrations have spilled out on to the balcony, and into the park with its adventure play spaces, inclusive swings and climbing frames, and of course the famous wave slide. Inside, meanwhile, the Hall’s flexible spaces, and friendly welcome, make it a venue suitable for many purposes.
Our regular classes and clubs provide a range of exercise and socialising opportunities, including: Zumba; Healthy Life; Pilates; Tea Dance; Luncheon Club; Bingo Pie and Peas; Film Club.
Young people enjoy Scouts (including Beavers and Cubs) upstairs in the halls, and the Youth Project in its two bespoke rooms, as well as outdoor fun in the Park, of which the Skate/BMX Park sees both active, and slow days of participation.
Groups, such as the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NP-AONB) and the ‘Landscape Partnership’ tidying-up project Resilient Allen Valleys, which occupies one of the hall’s two bespoke offices (the other is occupied by the community development group Fawside), use the Hall for training and conferences; recently the hall hosted an Otter Spotting training event, as well as craft courses like wool felting.
Events in the Hall include: the annual Pantomime, written and directed this year for the first time by Laura Charlton; the annual Folk Festival; and the New Year’s Eve Ceilidh; all growing in fame and popularity every year. Our performances from the Highlights Rural Touring Scheme showcased the talents of Louise Jordan in November, with her tales of intrepid WW1 women; while ‘Jack and the Beans Talk’ brought giant puppets to entertain the tinies last Christmas. We are working hard to prepare for Phoenix Dance on June 7; we are very lucky to be hosting this nationally acclaimed troupe!
Much of the preparation and planning goes on unseen behind the scenes and once again thanks are due to our able and vigilant caretaker Gordon, our sparkly cleaner Jane Walsh, and menders and fixers Ray, Christina, and Fred…….
The trustees have ambitions too; to provide more activities and events for children, as well as upgrading some of the play equipment. They want to recruit new trustees to inspire, advise and help with this – get in touch (all contact details are listed on the Allendale Village Hall website ) to join the Events Team, or the Refreshments Team, or if you have unused technology or accounting skills you’d like to put into practise!
The Allendale Village Hall & Recreation Ground charity is a continuing part of the historical and current heart of Allendale and the Allen Valleys. The trustees of the charity recognise that they proceed on the basis of thirty years of dramatic improvements, both to hall and grounds. The park, of course, was derelict only fifteen years ago: with a broken down band hut dangerous to life and limb; ragged steel nettings around the tennis courts; a forlorn wave slide; fallen down perimeter fencing with a precipitous Deneside drop-away behind; and a bowling green open to vermin. Its development did not proceed willy-nilly, a piece here and a different style of piece there, but rather according to a comprehensive plan of renovation, adding items as funds became available, and finally encompassing the space in terms of architectural, landscaping, garden design, play-making (TimberPlay was the source of all of the play equipment, for example, and Eibe built and installed the skate park ramps) and woodland access development, so that the picture has been one of a cohesive space for all to enjoy. Sensitivities to the aesthetics of that scheme, while maximising safe play capacity, can help inform how the charity goes forward, responsive to the past while looking to the future.
With our friends and colleagues we aim to continue to provide a thriving and responsive community space where locals, friends and visitors can share ideas, express themselves, support each other, dance and sing……..
Come and visit! Check out our events on our website, outdoor noticeboard, and Allendale area notices on facebook. And come and join us in this community adventure!”