During the week of January 25th to 29th January we will be publishing articles regarding the village hall, its history, activities and volunteers. You can also check out our Facebook page for news and information regarding National Village Hall Week and other activities
Closing our National Village Hall week – we need YOU
As National Village Hall week draws to a close, we hope that you have enjoyed our swift canter through the various aspects of your village hall. We have been able to give you just a snapshot of what the hall is all about, it happens– in fact, we struggled to work out what to leave out but hopefully you know a little bit more now and liked what you saw and read.
We joined in this week’s national “celebrations” from which it was clear that we are very fortunate in the hall that we have – in terms of the state of repair, the facilities and the support for community events. You will have seen earlier in the week what group, club and community activities take place and hopefully everyone will return when we are permitted to reopen fully after the pandemic restrictions are lifted; in the meantime, we are closed for the safety of everyone in the community and beyond.
Our vision continues to be growing the hall as a community hub by encouraging its use by you and the rest of the community. It was frustrating that we had to put another season of community events on hold last March but we will be back even with new social distancing rules. In the meantime, we are progressing with yet more improvements.
The only word of caution in this vision is that none of this happens without considerable effort which is usually down to the committee, even down to the most trivial of jobs such as clearing snow from the car park or showing potential hirers around. We are a team of 8 volunteers who would welcome new ideas and fresh faces to both maintain the hall and arrange more events; the same goes for the gala committee which is a separate group that focuses on not surprisingly, the annual gala. No qualifications are required, only a willingness to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in and the time to do so. It is not all work as we have fun as well.
If you wish to learn more about us, please join us at our virtual AGM on 8pm on Tuesday 9th February; just contact Annie Willcox on firstname.lastname@example.org for the dial in details or, indeed for any other information.
Join us and be part of a real success story in the community.
Fundraising is a big part of running a village hall, it takes a lot of effort and commitment from all involved. We are lucky to have such a great committee that participate in our activities. We always spend the money raised on the hall, over the past 12 months we have had the hall completely decorated, provided various events – we are especially proud of the ‘golden age’ christmas lunch, new more secure front doors, refurbished the hall floor and installed a projector and surround sound system to enable us to run community events
Where possible and commercially viable we like to use local trades/suppliers so we keep it in the community.
Moving forward we would like to refurbish the bar as it now becomes a more and more important feature of the hall, the hall roof is 20+ yrs old and is in need of a refurb after many patches through the years, the car park also needs some TLC, they is also a long list of to-do’s around the hall to keep it ship shape and in great condition (volunteers anyone?)
Meet The Committee
We thought it would be good to interview the volunteers that make up the committee, you will see during the week that we’ve got all sorts volunteering
Name: Annie Willcox
Occupation: Secondary School Teacher
How long have you been on the committee: Longer than some and not nearly as long as others. To be honest I’m not actually sure, but a few years.
Highlight of being on the committee so far: The community events that we have run; everything from the rugby to the children’s film screenings and of course the Christmas dinner. Watching all sorts of different groups of people getting to mix together as a community and enjoying themselves in the hall.
Why did you join the committee: I sometimes wonder myself?! Seriously though, I wanted to give something back to the community I live in. Being on the committee gives me the opportunity to do this and to meet lots of different people as well.
Hopes for the Village Hall in the future: I would like it to remain a central part of village life for the foreseeable future and watch lots more families and groups enjoy the fantastic facilities that we have to offer, helping them to make their own memories.
Name: Peter Stimson, also known as Chopper to many in the village
Occupation: Retired with hobbies including gardening, listening to music and supporting the Village Hall. In my younger years I worked on the farms and delivered corona around the village along with various other careers in transport.
How long have you been on the committee: This is my 4th time on the village hall committee. I have also supported 2 youth clubs run in the village along with bingo on a Friday night.
Highlight of being on the committee so far: I have enjoyed how the activities continue to expand from the regular events and also showing the Rugby, children films and the annual gala, bringing families and village people together.
The village hall has been an integral part of family life and we have held many parties for a gathering of the clan. I have been known to be the life and soul of these parties, dressing up on many occasions and always being the joker. This has left me and my family with many happy memories and I am honoured to be part of the committee for the future generations.
Why did you join the committee: Very much a village person and love being part of the community. I have lived in Flitton and Greenfield all my life. I come from a family of 10 who also grew up in the village. The village hall is a great place to meet, with many happy memories of the parties with family, friends and functions held in the hall.
Hopes for the Village Hall in the future: For the Village Hall to be the heart of the community with more activities being held. I would like to see more younger people to be involved so the hall continues through the generations. More community events and a place for family and friends to come together.
Name: Carl Lowe
Occupation: I was a chef at the House of Commons for 17 years. For the last 4 years I have become a Assistant Management Accountant for Catering at the House of Commons
How long have you been on the committee: This is my second stint on the committee. I have been on the committee for 4 years now, after gentle persuasion from Mumma Lowe to join again!
Highlight of being on the committee so far: For me it is seeing the transformation of the Hall internally and how it has become more engaging with the Parishioners. As a committee we have really strived to make the Hall the ‘Hub of the Community’ and to do that it needs to be appealing. We have really spent a lot of time re-decorating, installing new Front Doors, Projector & Surround sound system. The Rugby events have been a roaring success and was well worth getting up at 6am to prepare the breakfasts during the World Cup.
Why did you join the committee: It may sound a bit cliché, but my Grandparents & Parents helped raise the Money to build the Hall over 50 years ago. I want to make sure that the legacy continues, and that the Hall is still standing in another 50 years.
Hopes for the Village Hall in the future: I would like to see younger people from the community to become more involved. One thing I have learnt over the years that the more people you have, the more ideas, the easier the work! I oversee running the Bar at the hall now and it is like a second job! Having said that it is enjoyable. I’d like to see the Hall continue with community events like the Christmas Lunch, film nights, Disco’s and Live Music, Sporting events and just be somewhere that families can come as a Family and enjoy themselves for the evening without it costing them a fortune!!
Name: Margaret Lowe (HRH)
Occupation: Retired, Well supposed to be!!
How long have you been on the committee: 12 + years
Highlight of being on the committee so far: Seeing the community Support, we had over the last 12 months before the pandemic. Rugby Christmas film show, Easter film show & Easter egg hunt. In particular for me The Christmas lunch for us Golden age people of the village was a very lovely highlight. The generosity of the people young and old within the village with their donations and their time made it a very special afternoon.
Why did you join the committee: I joined the committee as a parish council representative and have now progressed to be the booking officer for the Hall as well
Hopes for the Village Hall in the future: My hopes for the future are that the Hall can continue to be supported by the community that it was set up for. This includes the Gala which has for many years been the main fundraiser for the Village Hall .
Name: Simon Sadler
How long have you been on the committee: At least 15 years
Highlight of being on the committee so far: There have been quite a few highlights as our recent efforts to make the hall the community hub have paid off with fantastic village support for our family film shows, sporting breakfasts and Xmas lunch for the senior citizens, all benefiting from a redecorated and hall and improved facilities. However, what sticks out in my memory is the moment on one New Year’s Day when, after 2 days of hard effort, we succeeded in diverting water flooding from the field, ditch and road away from the hall when it had been lapping at the front door – yes, an unusual memory and certainly not in any job description.
Why did you join the committee: I had been heavily involved with the gala which was raising funds for specific projects and I was keen to help the committee which, owing to the lack of numbers, was struggling to complete those projects at the time. I joined as the church representative and still haven’t found the escape route yet.
Hopes for the Village Hall in the future: I would like to continue the journey of making the hall the community hub once normal service is resumed and would welcome more volunteers to help with community events and even the routine maintenance. Along with plans to refurbish the bar and replace the roof, we have a fantastic hall of which we can be very proud and, with everyone’s help, long may that continue.
Name: Shirley Story
Occupation: Company director
How long have you been on the committee: Around 3 years
Highlight of being on the committee so far: Being part of a group of people who genuinely want to provide facilities that local residents want to take part in
Why did you join the committee: To represent Masquerade Theatre Group that uses the brilliant facilities that the Hall has to offer.
Hopes for the Village Hall in the future To expand its use to better meet the needs of the local residents
Name: Pat Mason (AKA Nanny Pat)
Occupation: Retired, well meant to be 😊
How long have you been on the committee: 2 Years
Highlight of being on the committee so far: Being nosey and keeping up with Village gossip haha. Seriously being involved in all the events we have put on over the last 2 years. Making Teas & Coffees to make sure everyone is watered too!
Why did you join the committee: I put my hand up at the wrong time in a WI Meeting!! I am the representative for WI
Hopes for the Village Hall in the future: That the Hall continues to be the mainstay & hub of the community for years to come for all villagers new and old!
Name: Sean Harley
Occupation: Chief Information Officer, basically I’ve made a career out of telling people to restart their IT equipment to solve the issue.
How long have you been on the committee: I actually don’t know
Highlight of being on the committee so far: All of the community events that are run are a real highlight for me from the OAP Christmas Lunch, Easter Films, Disco’s, Xmas Films its a real joy to see the results of all the hard work the committee puts in seeing people enjoy the hall along with the community spirit it brings
Why did you join the committee: Carl Lowe strong-armed me into joining, seriously I’m busy in my corporate life and wanted to contribute to making a difference in my local community and with the Village Hall being the heart of the community what a better place to start.
Hopes for the Village Hall in the future: Continue for the hall to be used on a regular basis for people providing community services, more community events and importantly more people from the community helping out on the committee and with events – one thing I have learned is you can never have enough hands or ideas running an active village hall that contributes so much to the community.
Fundraising is an essential part of the Village Hall life
One of the highlights in the village hall year is the annual gala which has been the main fundraiser for the hall over so many years.
Previously in May and June, in recent years it has been held in September but the original format has remained the same – the vehicle procession of the gala queen through the villages, her coronation and then fun and games for the remainder of the afternoon; there are displays in the arena, football competition, stalls and interest activities for all ages.
Every year we have a theme but one regular favourite is the final arena event- the tug of war between boys and girls. Yes, we do raise funds for the hall but, more importantly, we have fun.
Regular Users of the Village Hall
The village hall is extremely proud of the diverse groups that currently use the facilities and have in the past. We have a wide range of activities that are currently at the hall. Please visit our Regular Activities page and read below for recent new additions
We are delighted that during the pandemic (when we were open) we have added the following groups to the hall’s regular activities list.
Teddy Tennis Needlecraft Lace Makers Sit Down Pilates Thai Chi Irish Dancers Masquerade Drama Group
If you are interested in taking part in any of these activities please visit our Regular Activities page
We have previously had the following activities use the hall.
Super League Darts Bingo Whist Drive Salsa Dancing
So, whatever the activity you may be interested in we think we may have you covered?
If there is an activity you feel as a committee we could arrange, or if you have any ideas of activities for the community you would like to bring to the hall we would love to hear from you.
It all began 25 years ago
Below is an extract from the Ampthill News from 1969…
Villagers at Flitton & Greenfield started collecting for a new village hall 25 years ago and on Saturday they saw it being officially opened.
The opener was Mr John Shine, a member of the building committee, who said they had been collecting since the war, but there was a break in activities and the villagers started up the fund again only about two years ago.
The land for the hall was bought 20 years ago and until Easter when the building started, it was being used to grow rhubarb. The total cost of the Hall was £10,000 but the local authorities helped out and the villages had to raise only £5,000.
In the picture are left to right- Mr B Fossey, Mrs Davis (Chairman of the Management Committee) Mr & Mrs Shine
Mr. Shine said most of the money had been raised by sponsored walks, bazaars & barbecues. After the opening ceremony, there was a short concert by children and in the evening a dance was held.
This was an extract from the Ampthill News and Flitwick Record published on Tuesday, September 16th 1969, after the hall had been opened on Saturday 13th.
We know from local residents that many of the residents of Flitton, Greenfield & Wardhedges actually helped with the construction of the hall, in terms of getting the land ready and laying the base where the hall still sits to this very day. Many are still living within the local area. The architect was a Mr Ray Walker of Greenfield. Unfortunately as time goes on residents pass on or move out of the area, therefore we are limited with the information we do have. However we have found a few snippets of information that are true to the best of our knowledge!
The land was purchased from the council in around 1951 where the Trust Deed for the hall was formed and signed by Mr. Eric Roberts of Wardhedges. Many members of the local community formed the management committee, whose occupations ranged from a retired milkman to a market gardener, butcher to a retired police officer. It is fair to say it was a real village effort to get the hall off the ground with an unbelievable amount of fundraising, from the Gala (which still runs today) to dances & Totes. We know Dorie Fowler who was the caretaker of the hall for many, many years used to walk around the village, with others knocking doors for the Tote which was run for a number years around the village.
There are so many names that have been mentioned with regards to the village hall that it would be hard to mention them all. Over the years the hall has been transformed into what we see today. A local man, Mr. Pyper donated money to the hall to construct a bar. This was known as Pypers Bar. Past memories recall Ken & Annie Gibson running the bar, with all profits donated to the village hall.
MORE NEWS JUST IN…………………….
With special thanks to David & Sonia Evans, former owners of Puzzles Farm Shop in Greenfield we have some more information with regards to the Hall & Bar.
As previously mentioned Mr. Pyper donated money for the refurbishment of the Bar. It has come to light that this was just a loan.
The Bar was originally located in a cupboard in the hall where the Disabled Toilet is now situated. For those that pay attention when they go into the hall, they will notice there are 2 doors at the rear of the hall that resemble a serving hatch. This is where the Bar used to be.
Sonia’s mother & father, Elsie & Bill (aka Button) Carr took over the running of the Bar. In 1976 they successfully applied for a ‘on’ licence for the sale of drink. The Village Hall was the first bar in the area to have this. Please see the article below.
They paid to equip the bar out of their own pocket, and ran monthly dances with Live bands, and Friday night bingos plus other fundraising events to pay back the loan. Sonia’s mother also donated the Glitter Ball that is located in the centre of the hall. We are pleased to say that the Ball is still there to this day and fully operational.
The dance’s were very much a Village Highlight with balloon’s in a net on the ceiling. Sonia’s daughters have happy memories of helping their grandparents bottle up on a Saturday morning for ‘ Crunchies and a bottle of coke’
When they closed the shutters they always joined in for a dance and to sell tickets for the next month’s dance.
Below are further happy photo’s supplied by David & Sonia.
A sign made for Button which hung behind the bar.
Button & @Elsie enjoying themselves