Village hall dream gets nearer

DREAMS of a new village hall in Bentley are a step closer to being realised today thanks to a £260,000 lottery grant.Villagers in Bentley have been trying to raise cash for the hall for five years and are now more than half way towards their goal.

DREAMS of a new village hall in Bentley are a step closer to being realised today thanks to a £260,000 lottery grant.

Villagers in Bentley have been trying to raise cash for the hall for five years and are now more than half way towards their goal.

John Blackmore, project co-ordinator, said: "We were very fortunate to get this grant.

"We were very pessimistic about the bid as with the Olympic bid we thought money would be channelled into that. We were pleasantly surprised when we got it."

The trustees of the village hall submitted a similar bid to the lottery last year but were unsuccessful.

Mr Blackmore added: "It was not that there was anything wrong with the bid but because they had run out of money. We were pretty disappointed.

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"We need about the same amount of money again. The trouble is the other funders wouldn't talk to us until we got the lottery money."

Following the successful Big Lottery Fund bid, Mr Blackmore now believes the group will have more success in gaining funding from elsewhere.

They will use the cash to build a new hall near to the current building in Station Road.

Mr Blackmore added: "The old hall is timber framed and was built 40 odd years ago. We can throw money at it to do it up.

"We could throw £100,000 at it and not know where it has gone so we want to build a new one.

"The new facilities will mean we can keep community life alive by maintaining our current groups and encouraging new groups to join us. "We hope to offer a wider range of activities including an IT group and a luncheon club. We have a large number of retired residents in the village and the hall is central and within easy walking distance for most people."

It is hoped work will begin in April next year.

A fete will take place at the Case is Altered pub in the afternoon of August 29 to raise money for the village hall fund.

Further fundraisers will take place throughout the year.

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