Volunteers needed to keep 150-year-old village hall open

Swaffham Prior Village Hall

The chairman of Swaffham Prior Village Hall's management committee said the hall is at risk of closure if it does not recruit more trustees. - Credit: Halls for Hire

The chairman of a village hall which faces the threat of closure believes losing it could be "very detrimental”. 

Swaffham Prior Village Hall management committee has seen the number of trustees dwindle in recent years, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

There are currently six volunteers, before cutting down to four after the planned resignation of its bookings clerk and treasurer in April. 

“We keep advertising for more help and nobody has come forward; I don’t know why,” Alan Durrant, committee chairman, said. 

“We have been in short supply for five, six years.” 

Mr Durrant, who has been chairman for six years, was going to resign from the committee but stayed on after realising only four trustees would remain. 

“I was going to resign for personal reasons at the AGM on April 21 but I’ve had a rethink as there will be nobody left,” he said. 

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“It’s imperative to keep it going.” 

Mr Durrant has seen interest come and go to join the village hall committee, which requires at least three trustees in order to function. 

Before Covid, Mr Durrant saw high interest in hiring the village hall on High Street and other village events. 

“I think the impact the hall has on the village is huge,” he said.  

“We’ve had a good relationship with villagers; any suggestions we get, we try to make use of them.” 

Some of the duties involved as bookings clerk and treasurer include managing the hall’s accounts, updating its website and helping with fundraising activities. 

The village hall, which started as a reading room over 150 years ago, has since been expanded thanks to a grant from Cambridgeshire County Council. 

A cheese and wine evening at the hall with Cambridgeshire ACRE is planned for April 11, 7.30pm for people who may be interested in becoming a trustee. 

And with the importance the village hall holds, Mr Durrant is quietly confident it will continue to serve its local community. 

“I think closing could be very detrimental as it’s a major service in the village,” he added. 

“As a member, you are giving a service to the surrounding villages. 

“I’m very hopeful and reasonably confident because I think a lot of people don’t want to see the hall close.”