The stormy winter season has hit with a vengeance and Storms Ciara and Dennis have barrelled their way across the Atlantic and given us a battering. So far Dennis has been the strongest but who knows what Ellen, Francis or Gerda et al may bring. As I sit here with my mug of Yorkshire Tea (milk, no sugar) and listening to some relaxing music as a counterpoint to the storm outside, I’m drawn to thinking of the past year, the future and the many plans we have for our Village Hall.
We’re a small group of trustees on the committee and are all very busy elsewhere with other commitments be they family, careers or other organisations. Our Secretary position is currently vacant and we’d love to get a team of just three or four Bar Managers together to help run the bar and free up the committee to deal with everything else that it takes to keep our Hall running. This is essentially a plea to arms as the past year has been phenomenally busy for us and a lot has been achieved since last March. More can still be achieved, but not without your help. A final call from myself would be for a Vice-Chair to help run some of the projects and help out where needed when I’m working away.
Since March 2019, we’ve overhauled the booking process with a website, email address (firstname.lastname@example.org), dedicated mobile phone and an amazing Booking Secretary (Jana). The results have been spectacular and the Hall is a busy and vibrant place whilst keeping the costs as affordable as possible. Our forthcoming AGM will include our 2019 audit where the increase in bookings will be very much in evidence.
Behind the bar, our regular Friday night openings are manned by a friendly, willing and growing group of volunteers and it’s been amazing that we’ve been able to open every week for almost a year. Additionally we offer the bar to those wanting parties and have kept all the prices as low as we can so that the village has somewhere convenient, friendly and reasonably priced to share a drink or two with old friends and make some new ones. The range of drinks has been increased (especially the gin, a particular weakness of mine!) and the new TV looks great and will be used to show events in the future. Contactless card payments can be taken thanks to Karren’s work as Treasurer and bar takings are a steady source of income for the hall, enabling us to make other improvements elsewhere. The bar is starting to look a little tired these days and a refurbishment would be amazing to do if we’re able to collate a team of Bar Managers to look at what we’d like to change.
Some improvements are visible, others less so. The first big project we undertook was the installation of fourteen solar panels last summer and we are on track to produce £800 of electricity in the 12 months that follow. By my reckoning, the installation will be paid for in just over 4 years from now. Combined with the ambient cellar cooling (that is being utilised a lot at the moment as it draws cold outside air in to keep the cellar chilled instead of using the air conditioning system) and the wholesale replacement of every halogen light fitting with LEDs, our electricity consumption has reduced drastically and we are also producing our own making our Hall a more efficient building to operate.
But we’re not finished there. A project I would love to get off the ground is a sound system with two speakers (for now!) in the main hall so that anyone can play music from any source for functions, fitness classes, parties etc. We have some funds available but our most limiting factor is time. As I mentioned earlier, we are all busy with other things so this is a plea for any budding sound or film enthusiasts (amateur or professional makes no difference, we’re all learning as we go along here!) to get in touch to help get this project going – if there’s anything in particular you would like to see then this is your opportunity to make that happen (Swindon Village Film Society anybody?).
Following on from the great Christmas party, our Easter Party is ready to go on Friday 3rd April with a disco, kids’ entertainments and food from 6pm.
We had to sadly cancel our 2019 New Year’s Eve party due to a lack of volunteers but we’re hoping to throw a worthy bash this year and are starting to think of ideas for what we can do and what you, as our fellow villagers, would like to see. If you have an ideas or are able to give some time to make this a spectacular New Year’s Eve to welcome 2021 then please email or comment below with your thoughts.
Finally, it’s the 75th anniversary of VE Day this year and, on Friday 8th May, we’re having a special VE Day celebration (it’s a Bank Holiday and later serving hours have been sanctioned by the authorities). To that end, we’re organising some stalls, a photography competition (with the theme being Spring in Swindon Village, see our Facebook page for further details over the next few weeks), a treasure hunt for the younglings and young at heart, a BBQ and an all day bar, possibly with a disco.
If any of that sounds like your cup of tea (I’ve finished mine by the way but I might treat myself to another) then please get in touch by email as additional help is always welcome – you’re not committed to helping out forever but many hands really do make light work for everyone.