Stretton Sugwas has lost two pubs, one shop and its Post Office over the years, yet a massive £300,000 Big Lottery award towards revamping the village hall shows that community spirit is most definitely alive and kicking.
Part of a major £2.2 million payout to 89 projects across the West Midlands, this week’s announcement has been greeted with delight among the village’s 550-strong population, and the good news is certain to spread to others over a 20-mile radius who regularly meet at the 83-year-old hall.
Refurbishment of the hall, a major hub for young and old alike in Stretton Sugwas, will be equally important for those who attend clubs and functions from Mansel Lacy, Staunton-on-Wye, Almeley and further afield. A survey undertaken as part of the village’s bid for funding revealed that people from 19 villages make this a regular port of call.
Hall committee member Val Javens, who is credited with masterminding the funding application, said the village was “pretty elated” at the news.
“There is no longer a pub, shop or Post Office so the hall is the centre of the community,” she said. “This is a focal point for people from a wide area.” Two local pubs, the Travellers Rest and Kite’s Nest, (more recently an Indian restaurant), have both closed in recent years.
She continued: “We want to be a health and wellbeing centre, and we have established a wildlife area outside too.”
All age groups are catered for at the hall, from playgroup and Brownies to jive classes, dog training, a spinning and weaving group, popular whist drives and a thriving lunch club. A walking for health group is also planned to tie in with regular coffee mornings.
The hall is also busy with birthday parties and is frequently used for events at the parish church across the road.
“It’s a focal point for the village, and for all who are west of us, as well as for those living on the outskirts of Hereford,” said committee chairman, John Robinson. He explained that the project would include a new roof which will also be extended to cover an area of flat roofing. The new-style hall will feature a main hall as well as a meeting room.
The Big Lottery award provides for ‘creation of a social, educational, health and wellbeing hub while engendering a community spirit’.