Rallying call over replacement plans for fire-devastated community centre

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CAMPAIGNERS have issued a rallying call for people to get behind their plans for a village community venue.

St John’s Church Hall, in Meadowfield, Durham, was destroyed by fire on Sunday, March 23, last year.

FIGHTING BACK: Committee members, left to right, Carol Cook, treasurer Lesley Baxter, Shirley Aberdeen and Janice Shoulder look at the plans for the new hall

FIGHTING BACK: Committee members, left to right, Carol Cook, treasurer Lesley Baxter, Shirley Aberdeen and Janice Shoulder look at the plans for the new hall

But determined locals are fighting back and have unveiled plans for a new building – subject to planning permission – to replace the 103-year-old venue.

They have formed a fundraising committee and are lining up events to gather in finances. They’re calling on the people of Durham to get behind the campaign, starting this Saturday at a funday at Meadowfield Leisure Centre, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

Treasurer Lesley Baxter said: “We need public backing. We need people to come forward and we need awareness.

“We shall be having more events and if the people have any ideas, they would be appreciated.” The site of the former hall has been cleared and the planned new single storey replacement would be built on the same spot complete with a large kitchen, a stage, toilets and parking.

It will hopefully be used for birthday parties, wedding receptions, craft fairs and workshops, as well as by knitting groups, mothers’ union organisations, Brownies and Guides.

Around £500,000 is needed for the new building but insurance money, grants and community fundraising will account for around £340,000.

That leaves about £160,000 still to find and that’s where the public comes in. Committee member Shirley Aberdeen said: “We want to have something that the whole community can be proud of.”

Saturday’s funday will include face painting, hook a duck, a raffle, a children’s entertainer, bouncy castle and craft stalls. Entry is 50p for adults with all proceeds going to the hall funds.