My history, I was built about 1862 so I am almost 120 years old. I started life as a Drill Hall, with lots of local lads training to be soldiers, but after the Great War there was little call for that so the lovely people of Ninfield raised £150 to buy me and I became Ninfield Village Memorial Hall, I have two lovely plaques commemorating those who gave their lives in the two world wars.
Over the years I have had many alterations including a new roof and windows were installed. The original roof had glass lanterns to let the light in, rather that windows, and I remember occasions when there were parties when I got so hot the jellies on the table melted! Somewhere along the line the lovely raked stage was built, I was divided up to provide the committee room and kitchen, with extensions for the ladies and gents WCs. In the last 10 years my main hall has been insulated and redecorated, and had new radiators, stage curtains, lighting, windows and comfy chairs. The remaining challenge is to enlarge and improve the kitchen and add toilet facilities accessible for all.
My wonderful team work hard to keep me warm and full of fun. They have monthly markets, were locals sell their homemade produce and various crafts.
There are film shows; some in the evenings and some musical matinees, there is a fabulous Gala Night, when about 120 villagers come together to enjoy fish and chips, (brought in of course!) the odd drink or two, a revue show, presentations of the Village Awards and a disco to finish. We have Carol Concerts and Quiz nights. The Primary School have their school play and disco here. From time to time there is a marvellous over 60s tea party, oh and the reminiscing that goes on then!! One talented group who meet monthly, Ninfield Flower Group, every so often dress me up to look amazing! and the perfume from their fantastic flower arrangements is appreciated by the 100s of people who attend and gaze in wonder at their stunning creations.
The enthusiastic Art Group who come along weekly to classes also host annual exhibitions in October where they display and sell talented art works. .
Lots of lovely people come along every week to dance and exercise classes which just leave me exhausted. These classes include Pilates, yoga, tap, ballroom, line dancing, dancercise and -far more in keeping with my age- chair based exercise! Then we have a badminton group and a very active Horticultural Society that puts on two stunning shows a year. All our shows are a must to attend if you are around.
Beavers, cubs and scouts play, learn and have fun. I just love hearing the toddlers laughing along with their mums as they play at their sessions. Children's parties are among my favourite occasions, all that excitement, then there's the family parties, christenings, weddings and sadly wakes that can all be booked in advance.
My problem is that not everyone is able to come and see me, because, there isn't a disabled persons toilet, (I only have a temporary porta-loo outside, next to the front door, not good) nor do I have any baby changing facilities! and the toilets for everyone else are small and damp, and there's quite a queue with 120 to 200 people here for an evening! And as for my kitchen! Well, it just has worktops, open shelves, a sink and kettles! Plus it's cold and has damp patches on the walls, not good for entertaining or food hygiene!
I really do want to be more welcoming to more people, so please, will you help me?
My Solution! My lovely band of workers have raised the money with lots of fun events and some donations - including one very generous one, to enlarge me, but not all the money needed to put in the toilets, tiles, flooring, kitchen or first floor meeting room. The builder is going to knock a bit of me down then create a lovely new space to fit in everything I need. One of our local builders is due to start work this month and I so hope that when I open my doors in September to welcome you all back you will have raised the rest of the money so at the very least there'll be toilets and kitchen.
So with the help of all you lovely people we will be able fit a kitchen where I can entertain you in style. I need: new sinks; proper storage cupboards; a cooker so we can have hot food rather than just sandwiches and cake, nice as that is; fridges for food and for the bar, so you can enjoy a chilled white wine or lager! a dishwasher, (but I will miss all the chatter from those washing up each evening! and the time it takes to wash up after a dinner for 120 people!!) and maybe a glass washer! Then there's glasses, crockery, baking trays on which to heat food, oh so many lovely things to aim for, with your help please....
What will it mean? The most important thing it will mean is more inclusivity, reducing isolation for those who have disabilities in our village. Once a quarter there is a special musical matinee afternoon for those who are hard of hearing and/or suffer from dementia, and other afternoons when they play board games with a good chat and a cup of tea. Once completed people with other disabilities will be able to attend, knowing there are the proper facilities for them. Disabled children might then be able to consider joining the Scouting Group. A wider group of people will be able to attend some of the classes, benefiting from human company, gaining skills and reducing isolation. I want bring the community together to enjoy a breakfast morning or lunch club, have lovely hot foods at parties in lovely surroundings with proper facilities and without having to travel miles.
As to the finances the entire project is estimated at £250,000, I have the £200,000 and so I need about £50,000. This appeal is for £15,000 for the kitchen will really make a difference, so please share this information and press the donate button for as little or as much as you can spare! Should we be lucky enough to go over the £15,000, well I think you know how we will spend that.......first floor meeting room, dressing rooms, projector, sound system - I really do have a very long list!