SOS East Boldre
The Future of our Village Shop and Post Office is in Doubt
We only have one small shop in our rural, New Forest village - and we could lose it. The current shop owner is trying to sell it as a viable business but the shop area is quite small and local property prices are high, so there has not been much interest.
The bus only runs every other day so a local shop and Post Office is an essential lifeline for the community, especially for the elderly who no longer drive.
Our Village Hall is Struggling to Survive
Like many rural village halls, our main users, the aging population, are slowly disappearing. Income from hiring fees is falling and no longer covers our running costs. We have been supplementing our funds by organising fundraisers but a steady income stream would make life easier for everyone.
The hall was built a century ago as the Officers’ Mess for RAF Beaulieu, a WW1 military flying school, which trained pilots for action on the Western Front. It is the only military building in the New Forest, from that period, to survive.
During the 1960s, and again in the 1980s, flat-roof extensions were added to the hall, with little regard for the historic significance of the building or for efficient use of the space. For example, changing rooms for the local football club were added taking up an area of about 360 square feet but it is used for less than twenty hours each year and generates little or no income for the hall.
Two Problems with One Solution
We want to redevelop our village hall to incorporate a community shop and Post Office with a cafe where local people can meet. The flat-roof extensions will be removed and the area they occupy will be reallocated to a new building. The ground floor of this building will be leased to the new community shop and cafe, generating a regular income for the hall. The upper floor will be used for functions and exhibitions, and the old Officer's Mess will be restored to its former glory.
This is an ambitious project for the community and we need to get through the planning process before we can secure grant funding. We want to raise £5,700 to pay for the planning application, ecological surveys, environmental impact reports, consultants and all of the other hoops we must jump through before the first spade can hit the ground. If we can get through the planning process, we will be back to raise a further £600,000 pay for the project.
Meet the Team
The SOS East Boldre project is being managed by the East Boldre Village Hall team. Our Chairman is Mike Husband, seen here holding a seat from a First World War SE5a biplane fighter aircraft, while giving a speech at a formal dinner to celebrate the 100 year birthday of No. 84 Squadron, RAF, the only surviving squadron that was formed at East Boldre during WW1.
Steve Antczak is Secretary and general dogsbody. That's me on the right, leading a guided walk around the WW1 airfield ruins.
To raise funds for the hall, we wrote a book detailing the history of East Boldre Airfield. It has 256 A4 size pages with nearly 500 images, including many photographs taken at East Boldre during WW1.
From left to right, Gina Antczak, Village Hall Treasurer and Editor; Steve Antczak, Village Hall Secretary and co-author; Robin Street, Village Hall Trustee and co-author; Tony Johnson, Village Hall Trustee and co-author. More details about this well received book can be found on our website; www.eastboldre.org.
Here we are with another member of the team, Village Hall Trustee Malcolm Ross (right), selling our books at Lymington Market.
And whenever we hold a major fundraising event, the ladies of the village turn out in force to bake cakes and man the kitchen.
Our Fundraising Activities
We hold regular exhibitions of our historical archive to raise funds and, from time to time, we hold a spectacular historical event with dramatisations of life on the WW1 airfield and, twice, we have organised flying displays of replica WW1 aircraft. Currently, we are giving our exhibition a facelift which will cost us about £1,500.
On top of that, on 29 December 2017, a mini-tornado tore through East Boldre causing a lot of damage to homes and businesses. Our village hall took quite a hit. We are fully insured but this freak of nature has given us the opportunity to make some changes and overdue upgrades, which will not be covered by our insurance, so we will have to dig into our hard-earned funds to pay for them.
As can see, our reserve funds are spoken for, which is why we must raise £5,700 to pay for the planning and consultation process for our new Community Hub.