Appeal launched to help village save British Legion hall

The British Legion in Lakenheath

The British Legion in Lakenheath - Credit: Archant

Residents are being asked to support a £120,000 fund raising initiative to buy a redundant former British Legion clubhouse and use it to extend their village hall.

Brendan Fulham, chairman of Lakenheath village hall, told a public meeting on Thursday that the immediate sale of the former club house could now be blocked.

He said it was possible to use community asset legislation which means the village has until next April to match an existing offer for the legion building. Mr Fulham explained that the land which houses both the legion and the village hall was given over by Sir Charlton Briscoe after the First World War.

One part was used for a village hall and the remainder eventually became a veteran’s club, later the legion clubhouse.

Mr Fulham said that now residents had won support from a public meeting to keep “a valuable village asset” a moratorium on the sale would come into affect.

He felt that “buying it was easy”, suggesting the April 2014 deadline was well within the committee’s reach.

If the Peace Memorial Hall committee is successful in acquiring the former legion, it plans to build a joint village centre.

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Mr Fulham said: “There are all kinds of things we can use it for. But it’s for the village to decide this. My dream is to secure it first and foremost for the village.”

Lakenheath resident Alice Horrex, 90, whose father worked for the village branch of the legion, said: “It would break my heart to see it going. It is a great social place to meet.”

Mr Fulham said that he hoped to apply for a £100,000 grant from the National Lottery and has already been offered “substantial” financial support from local residents.

He added that he was confident in securing the site but felt renovating the building would be a long-term project.

The Peace Memorial Hall Committee reported that the legion building had deteriorated into state of disrepair whilst unused and had recently been vandalised.

The meeting was told that if a sale is completed, there might be up to £400,000 additional support from the National Lottery to renovate the building.