In 1998, Dunaverty Hall committee were faced with having to address a number of problems with the upkeep and maintenance of the original hall which had been built in 1913 as a TA Drill Hall. The fact also that the building no longer conformed to British standards and had become unstable and dangerous also had to be considered and with the new proposed legislation, a new hall was more appropriate. So the committee took the decision to close the original hall and it was eventually demolished in 2010. Initially this was a dreadful blow to the community and they had to accept that we would lose our village hall which had housed all our life events over the years. Then followed an issue where our new play park was about to be installed but it was to be built over an area where the drainage for the new hall would be and following discussions the committee took the decision to install the drainage prior to the build of the new play park to lessen disruption once it was built This was the easy bit – we now had to do serious fundraising to gather enough income to build a new community hub and so followed many years of applications, some successful others not, to reach an amount to get our build under way. We had taken advice from many sources as to how to heat our building, what needed to be included and some things that were mandatory to access some of the funding. Our build was completed in June 2016 and not without problems. We agreed to go with green energy and installed ground source heating. We were advised that we would receive funding but then found that through changes to government guidelines we no longer qualified – this then left us with a shortfall and we asked our local community to help and every one of them stepped up to the mark and bridged a huge gap so that we could complete our build. We now have a state of the art new hall which houses our community post office, a full sized badminton court in our sports hall, changing rooms with showers, commercial kitchen and meeting rooms. We can hold more than one event at a time and we have also managed to cater for weddings and other social events which could not be catered for in our small village before. We run computer classes, old pal’s network, a fit club, scouts and many other events each week. Our community is small and very rural and this new building has given this community back it beating heart.
We are nominating this project for a number of reasons. Firstly, the old hall sat in the centre of our village and had become unsightly and dangerous. When it was demolished there was then just a gap in the centre of the village and now this new building has enhanced the look of the centre of our small community. Our post office which over the past few years has been housed in a garden shed now is within the build and is such a benefit to the community as it is the only place around where people can access their pensions, money, mail services and, as it is within walking distance of most of the community, many come along for a chat. The design is in-keeping with all other property in the area and does not detract from the scenic location of our community. With the green energy being installed we feel that the build has been quite innovative and will indeed prove its sustainability. The hall also has to double as an emergency hub for our community in periods of extreme events as in March 2013 when our village was completely cut off from the rest of the area for a few days and was also without power for a week and to this end it has its own generator with automatic switchover so that when we have no power the hall will provide a warm shelter and somewhere to cook and provide for our community. The new hall has achieved in just a few short months involvement once more by the community in activities from which all benefit in different ways. Living in such a rural area can sometimes bring dreadful isolation and we have found that now the building is there and functions or classes are active, some of our community who never go out have actually started to join in and even if they only come to a class for the company then that in itself is a benefit to both them and the others attending. Our younger community now have a warm safe building that they can use for sport or entertainment whereas before their parents had to drive them 20-30 miles to attend events. The build was not without its challenges and where possible, local labour was used. When the trenches were to be dug for the ground source pipework, all the local farmers helped with the digging and laying of the pipework saving a great amount of funding in doing so. No monies were spent on site clearing or cleaning as it was the local community who got involved from the scouts to the farmers to the Women’s Institute all were available to help and this is what brings a community together. Another major challenge was always shortage of money as already stated but this community proved how deeply they wanted this new building and came forward when asked for help in one way or another.