What a week! Village Halls Week celebrations

Last week was amazing, lots of cake, tea and bunting – what could be better!  We celebrated at two events where Hallmark Certificates were presented.  Little Downham Village Hall received Hallmark 1 and Mandeville Hall received Hallmark 2&3 – the first hall in the county to receive Hallmark 3!



Village Halls trustees also celebrated by congratulating and thanking volunteers for all their hard work.  Horningsea Pavilion thanked their long serving Booking Secretary and Coton Village Hall thanked their dedicated caretakers as two examples.


coton village hall caretaker volunteers

Sue Marchant from BBC radio Cambridgeshire covered Village Halls Week in her daily afternoon radio show.  Sue visited halls from around the county and did some lovely interviews with trustees and users of village halls, it was really wonderful to have Sue involved for the whole week.

Sue Marchant talks to Anne Bullman, Chair

There are so many photos we could share from this fabulous week.  Thank you to everyone who took the time to take part in this week long event and we really hope that next year Village Halls Week will be even bigger and better!


Hallmark presentation for Little Downham Village Hall


Success celebrated with Little Downham trustees during Village Halls Week


Congratulations to the trustees of Little Downham Village Hall management committee on achieving Hallmark 1 accreditation. Hallmark is a nationally recognised quality standard scheme for village halls and community facilities.

Cambridgeshire ACRE runs the scheme throughout the County and are pleased to announce the trustees at Little Downham Village Hall have achieved Hallmark 1 accreditation. The visitors who carried out the accreditation inspection were very impressed with the dedication of the trustees and the considerable amount of work they have completed over recent years to ensure their historic hall continues to be well used and loved by their local community. The trustees work hard on a continuous programme of improvement to their Grade II listed village hall, previous uses of the buildings include the local workhouse and school.

The benefits of the Hallmark scheme for village halls includes formal recognition that the community facility has embedded good practice and procedures, giving residents and hirers confidence that their valuable community venue is being well managed and run by the trustees. There are three levels to the Hallmark scheme and it is hoped the trustees of Little Downham Village Hall will soon go on to achieve the next two levels.

Cambridgeshire ACRE took the opportunity to present the certificate during Village Halls Week (22 – 26 January) as this was a chance to celebrate not only the village hall but also the wonderful volunteers who work so hard to keep it open and fit for community use.

Alongside several local events, a national social media campaign is running to raise awareness of all that goes on in community buildings with the hashtag ‘#VillageHallsWeek’ and features on national and local radio. The aim of Village Halls Week is to raise awareness of just how important these buildings are to rural communities.

Kirsten Bennett, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire ACRE said: “I am especially pleased to be able to present Little Downham Village Hall trustees with their Hallmark 1 certificate during Village Halls Week. This week is a great opportunity for us to reflect on and celebrate all the great work that goes on in village halls and community buildings across the county. We would like to congratulate the trustees and volunteers at Little Downham Village Hall on their recent success with Hallmark 1. This accreditation is confirmation of the hard work and dedication of the management committee and supporters of the village hall. I wish them every success as they progress through the next two levels of the scheme.”

Jean Gallyer, Chairman of the trustees, said: “Over the years Little Downham Village Hall had become sad and not quite fit for purpose. Our current committee has to be congratulated in that, due to its hard work and use of its wide range of skills, the building and its facilities have been brought to the excellent standard that has enabled it to gain this prestigious Hallmark Award. We are very proud that Cambridgeshire ACRE has presented this award to us as it recognises the commitment that has gone into restoring this a very old and valuable community resource that will now provide a quality venue well into the 21st century.”

Village Halls Week launched with a coffee morning

Big Lottery 1

The first-ever national Village Halls Week was launched in Cambridgeshire with a coffee morning for village hall trustees at the Ellesmere Centre in Stetchworth. The event was attended by The Big Lottery and Grantscape who gave advice to over 40 local trustees on funds and grants currently available to support village halls and community buildings. The morning also included a short workshop run by Cambridge CVS on how to make successful funding applications.

Village Halls Week (22 – 26 January) is a chance to celebrate not only village halls themselves but also the wonderful volunteers who work to keep them open and fit for community use. Alongside local events, a national social media campaign is running to raise awareness of all that goes on in community buildings with the hashtag ‘#VillageHallsWeek’ and features on national and local radio. The aim of the week is to raise awareness of just how important these buildings are to rural communities.

Our thanks to the trustees, volunteers and staff at the Ellesmere Centre in Stetchworth for hosting this very busy event, making us all very welcome and a special thank you for providing us with excellent refreshments and homemade cakes!

Please remember to listen out this week on Radio Cambridgeshire for visits and interviews to other halls from across our county, and also follow #VillageHallsWeek on twitter and facebook to see what is happening in our County and nationally.

More news will follow on the blog…



60th Anniversary of Garfield Weston Foundation

In celebration of the 60th anniversary The Garfield Weston Foundation has launched a new one-off fund of £5million to support Capital projects to provide new or improved facilities for local communities across the UK.  The Fund will close for applications on 30th June 2018 but we wish to give charities plenty of notice so they have chance to develop their plans.   All the information of this fund can be found on the anniversary website where there is a specific section on the fund – https://anniversary.garfieldweston.org

The Foundation are keen to receive applications from across the UK and are therefore asking everyone to help spread the news about this exciting opportunity and to give potential applicants as much notice as possible, please share this blog post within your networks.  Or direct people to their website which has a summary of the fund and the Weston Anniversary Fund Application Guidelines.

Key messages about the fund:

  • One-off grants scheme in 2018 to support Capital projects to benefit local communities across the UK.
  • Open to UK registered charities, places of worship and state schools only.
  • Grants range from £30,000-£150,000.
  • Simple online application process.
  • Applications are now open and close on 30th June 2018.
  • You can still apply to the Fund even if your organisation is currently in receipt of a grant from, or has been rejected by, the Garfield Weston Foundation within the past 12 months.
  • One application only accepted to the Weston Anniversary Fund per organisation.
  • If relevant, planning permission must be secured prior to our closing date of the 30th June 2018.
  • Grants must be spent and projects completed by 31st December 2020.

Funding approved for St Peter’s Hall renovation in Wilburton

People in Wilburton are set to get an improved village hall thanks to a £50,000 grant from funding body WREN and a grant of £36,000 from the Cambridgeshire Fens Rural Leader programme.

The money, awarded by WREN’s FCC Community Action Fund and the Rural LEADER Programme, will be used to improve the main hall at the St Peter’s Hall site on the High Street of Wilburton.

Kevin Hennessy, Chair of Wilburton Parish Council believes the facility will make a huge difference to the lives of people living in the area.

He says: “This project will provide a real boost to the people of Wilburton. It’s fantastic that WREN and the Rural LEADER programme have awarded us this money and we’re really looking forward to our new village hall taking shape over the next six months”

WREN is a not-for-profit business that awards grants for community, biodiversity and heritage projects from funds donated by FCC Environment through the Landfill Communities Fund.

Cheryl Raynor, WREN’s grant manager for Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, says: “We are delighted to be supporting the Village Hall Internal Renovation project and pleased that our funding will provide such a fantastic facility for the village and surrounding areas. WREN is always happy to consider grant applications for projects that make a difference to local communities and we’re really looking forward to seeing this one take shape soon.”

For more information about WREN funding contact Cheryl Raynor at cheryl.raynor@wren.org.uk or visit http://www.wren.org.uk/

The Cambridgeshire Fens LEADER Programme is jointly funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. Alison Earl, project manager, says, ‘The Local Action Group, who is the decision maker for the funding, is pleased to be supporting this community project. We’re looking forward to receiving other grant applications from small businesses and community groups, before this funding stream comes to an end.’

For more information about LEADER funding contact alison.earl@cambsacre.org.uk or visit www.cambsfensleader.wordpress.com

Kevin Hennessy hopes the village hall will be ready to use by July 2018.

The grants will mean that the false ceiling in the hall can be removed bringing the hall back to its former glory with vaulted ceiling revealing the beautiful dormer windows that have been hidden for a number of years. The roof will be fully insulated, the heating replaced with new energy efficient underfloor heating suitable for the enlarged space and there will be a new sprung floor. The hall will be fully redecorated. It will be a modern facility suitable for a growing community.

The village hall working group are embarking on a programme of social events for the community to be held in the hall throughout the year. The renovations will provide a great venue for indoor events to complement the extremely successful outdoor events of the Beer Festival and Fireworks that the vibrant community of Wilburton already organise.