THE official opening of the greatly expanded and updated Cheriton Fitzpaine Parish Hall was performed by village resident Jean Carr (89), watched by more than 100 local residents and visitors.

The old hall was built in 1935 on land gifted by the Rev Arundel. As the years passed, the condition of the hall deteriorated and it needed to be rebuilt or renovated in order to provide a more comfortable venue and conform to present day health and safety requirements. Unfortunately, sufficient funding was not forthcoming. 

Eventually, in 2012, the hall committee decided to upgrade the hall and link it to the disused telephone exchange in order to have space for a new kitchen and toilets.

Work commenced in October 2012 and thanks to fundraising, grants and donations, plus a superb group of volunteers, the refurbishment project was successfully completed.

The committee comprises representatives of each of the groups that use the hall. Representatives from the user groups attended the opening ceremony.

Parish Hall Garden

RIBBON CUT
Mrs Carr, who cut a ribbon to open the hall, described the hall as “state-of-the-art” and a “hall Cheriton Fitzpaine should be proud of”.
She continued: “Every time I come to a function here and walk through the flower beds and then through the welcoming entrance, I think of all those people who have made this happen.
“Those who are no longer with us would say ‘Well Done’.
“Over the years the committee worked hard to keep the old hall profitable, and were apprehensive watching the costs for the alternations steadily increasing.
“But, fortune favours the brave. We have had grants from official sources and generous benefactors and a willing squad of volunteers who have worked tirelessly for the last three years.
“David Thom prepared the plans at no cost to the hall.
“When it came to the actual building, Clive Horton-Stephens and Roy Clayton worked day-after-day and have proved themselves more than able to tackle whatever problems came up.
“Tony was always ready with both help and advice and David Simms did the electrics. Thank you from all of us to those others who helped.
“Maralyn Kempson spent hours sourcing grants.”
Mrs Carr said that Cheriton Fitzpaine was a very special place for her, adding that it was a “caring and friendly village, and now we have a warm comfortable hall where we can socialise with our friends”.

She said the hall benefactor, John Harris, who bequeathed Church House and Church Hay to the village in 1648, to be used as a place of recreation by the youth of the parish, and what was now the site of the hall, would probably have been thrilled with the hall as those gathered in it were.

Mrs Carr is the widow of Ron Carr, who, with Roger Sheldrick and Clive Horton-Stephens, had started planning the hall extension and refurbishment 16 years ago.

Ms Kempson said that the success of the hall refurbishment and extension was due to “hard won grants and generous donations but mainly the dedication of Clive and Roy” who she described as having worked “so hard throughout the 3.5 year build”.

Jean Carr who officially opened Cheriton Fitzpaine Parish Hall
Photo: Margaret Tucker

MEETING ROOMS

The main hall has a seating capacity for 170 (155 banquet-style) and space for 200 dancing/informal. A PA system is available, there is a hearing loop and the hall has blackout curtains, a wooden floor and a stage can be constructed via negotiation with the Drama Club.
The committee room has seating for 30 theatre-style and 18 boardroom style. It has a carpet and blackout curtains.
The kitchen is well-equipped and has a hatch/servery link to the hall.
All areas are fully heated and wheelchair accessible. There is a designated cloakroom for disabled visitors. It has a walk-in shower and baby changing facilities.
The car park can accommodate 15 cars and has a designated disabled space.


FUNDERS
Funding for the hall came from: Viridor Credits, Parish Hall funds, Awards for All, Maralyn Kempson, Devon Communities Together, Mid Devon District Council Seed Fund, Cheriton Fitzpaine Parish Council, Investing in Devon (Devon County Council), Bernard Sunley Trust, Garfield Western Trust, Western Power, Norman Family Trust, Heathcoat Trust, Town and Parish (TAP) Fund, WI National, Lady Amory Trust, Leonard Laity Stoate Trust and Elm Trust.
The hall committee is still seeking finance to purchase new chairs and crockery and cutlery for the kitchen.
Current hall events include aerobics, bingo, Brownies, Christmas market, concerts, country music and dancing, Drama Club plays and pantomimes, elections (local and national), flat mat bowls, Garden Club shows and meetings, information evenings e.g. wine tastings and talks, jumble sales, monthly markets, parish council meetings, private parties, quiz evenings, receptions, Twinning meetings and events, WI meetings and events and village celebrations.

Hall bookings can be made by contacting the bookings secretary, Margaret Martin on 01363 866535.


Images and article provided by Alan Quick, Crediton Courier.