Church hall’s £500,000 birthday present

Youth leader John Barnett is delighted at receiving funding that will help maintain the youth sessions at St Mary's Community Hall in Horden.
Youth leader John Barnett is delighted at receiving funding that will help maintain the youth sessions at St Mary's Community Hall in Horden.
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A HALL will be given an overhaul worth almost £500,000 as it marks its 100th birthday.

The campaign to revamp St Mary’s Church Hall, in Blackhills Road, Horden, received the windfall from the Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities fund.

John Barnett in the newly refurbished St Mary's Church Hall, Blackhills Terrace, Horden.

John Barnett in the newly refurbished St Mary's Church Hall, Blackhills Terrace, Horden.

The award is the result of two years’ of work by supporters as they battled to save the building and give the families who live on its doorstep a brighter future,

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said John Barnett, chairman of Horden Colliery Residents’ Association and the centre committee.

“It’s going to give us the opportunity to realise some of the dreams that people have in our community and have put their effort into during the last two years.

“There are so many who want to use it, but the issue has been that if there’s something on in the hall, you can’t get through to the other areas.

“This will give us the chance to divide up areas and that means we could have up to four events on at once.”

Others who have backed the project include members of St Mary’s Church, which owns the building, Accent Foundation, Accent Regeneration, East Durham Trust and a host of individuals and groups who use the venue, including the Legionnaires Jazz Band, youth café and a food co-op.

The latest cash sum of £469,779 follows £32,620 awarded by the fund earlier this year to appoint the builders and surveyors needed to refurbish the building.

It will get new rooms, heating, lighting, car parking, a first floor, a lift, signs, new equipment and structural repairs, which will see the hall given a long-term future.

The project plans to work closely with neighbouring venues to make sure services complement each other, to help people improve their job prospects and health.

Training rooms, a fitness suite, internet café and a resource hub will be created.

Residents have already suggested that the centre is used to host housing services, be a somewhere they can meet police, take up job support and launch their own businesses and enjoy alongside bingo, dominoes and coffee mornings.

With planning permission granted and most of the funding in place, work is due to start in the spring, with doors opened later in the year.

The hall will be renamed the Horden Centennial Centre in recognition of its age.

The building will be leased from St Mary’s Church to a new charity and managed by a group of trustees, made up of residents and community representatives.

The project’s progress can be followed via www.hordencentennialcentre.blogspot.com

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