June 2020

It’s been quiet at the hall during lockdown, I had planned to do lots of work on the place but found myself without much free time due to family and work commitments. One success we did have was to have the cavity wall insulation installed so hopefully the place will feel cooler in the summer and stay warmer in the winter – all saving energy, reducing our carbon footprint and keeps our bills lower as the years go by. None of the cavities had any insulation in so it should make a big difference to the energy efficiency of our hall.

Speaking of carbon and green things, it’s been a year since our solar panels were installed and our 14 panels have generated 4.72MWh and save 1,207kg of CO2 emissions which is the equivalent of planting 55 trees. Every little helps and the technologies and costs are improving all the time. Along with replacing our lights with LEDs and installing smart thermostats (so we’re not heating an empty building), it’s all helped to keep our bills down and maximise what we can reinvest in our village hall. On that front, there are plans aplenty with the front door being replaced in the week that I write this so it should be there by the time this is printed. The new entrance is a commercial quality door that is wider than before, can open inwards and outwards (and stay open) whilst keeping the hinges covered so they’re safer for little fingers. Hopefully it’s a clear improvement and makes it easier to get in and out.

The question I’ve had to answer most when out and about is “When is the bar reopening?” well, we’re having online meetings with various organisations to come up with a plan to reopen in a safe manner and I’ll report back when we plan to open. Currently, we’re not permitted to open the hall for any users other than Early Years but hopefully that will change over the coming weeks and months as the rate of daily infections continues its steady decline (notwithstanding a second wave of course, hopefully we can control the virus infection rate to make normal life a reality again soon).

Sadly, Covid-19 has disrupted all of our lives and tragically there have been too many deaths lately. Our previous Chairman, Peter Piff, passed away aged 69 years on 7th May 2020 and our hearts go out to his friends and family – a steward of Swindon Village Hall for many years, he handed over a healthy bank balance to the new committee last year and it’s thanks to his and the previous committee’s efforts that we were able invest as quickly in the hall and make many of the improvements that I have spoken about in the year since I became Chair. Donations can still be made in his name to the Firefighters Charity.

Our committee too had its own loss in May when Hugh Stanford sadly passed away in Gloucester Hospital where he was receiving treatment for a heart condition. Hugh represented our youth groups on the Hall Committee and gave so much to the community – he will be sorely missed by everyone that knew him and donations in his name can be made here.

It’s been a rough time for everybody lately but the community spirit felt each Thursday for our ten rounds of clapping for key workers and care workers has been lovely to see, hear and feel – we have a great community here and it is something to be cherished and valued.

In Memory of Hugh Stanford

Hugh Stanford had an amazing sense of community spirit and gave much of his time and energy to helping others in our parish. A keen supporter of the Scout movement, he could be seen most Mondays in the Village Hall inspiring the young Beavers with his boundless enthusiasm and curious mind and, when the new committee was formed at Swindon Village Hall last year, he got involved and became a passionate Trustee who was proud to see the improvements we were making along the way for the benefit of all in the parish. He was a keen advocate for the bar to open regularly and used his bar knowledge to great effect increasing the range of drinks on offer and giving me welcome advice about life, work and family.

Hugh hosted the last pub quiz before lockdown and it was typical Hugh – a lovely and very entertaining evening with some well researched local knowledge questions mixed in with wider questions about the world around us. His own work for over 20 years at Travelbag had stemmed from his extensive travels and we would often chat for ages about some of the places he had seen and he was always keen to question me on my own travels. Despite appearances, he was occasionally a keen follower of fashion and once even wrote to the Telegraph praising the virtues of sarongs for gentlemen! In his own words sarongs are, “cooler than underpants and providing more freedom than pyjamas, they are ideal for strolling around the house and allow you the sensation of sleeping naked without having to wrestle with dressing gown sleeves.”

Hugh was devoted to his family and the wider community and is survived by Claire and their two boys. His funeral was held on 29th May 2020 and dozens of people turned out throughout the village to pay their respects as he made his final journey. He will be sorely missed by everyone that knew him and he leaves a gaping hole in all our hearts at Swindon Village Hall.

June 2020

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