November 2020

Winter is beckoning and our usual part hibernation during the dark months following the autumnal equinox is due to take a markedly different turn this year. As I write this, Covid-19 cases across most regions are rising although thankfully not so much in the local area and national restrictions are likely to be reintroduced. If we do end up closing the hall again then we are in a good position to reopen quickly once control measures are eased again. This is all down to the sterling work of the committee members (Gemma and Jana) who have written and implemented Risk Assessments and enabled our partial reopening for several groups whilst we can/could.

A new “Swindon Village Hall” sign went up last month that was the culmination of many months’ work and was crafted by a very talented, local metal artist, Jack Russell (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). The sign is made from a sheet of stainless steel that has been laser cut to show off our logo (the goose, dog and pig are all representative of local landmarks and many thanks to Eley and Maija for designing it) and give a name to the hall (the building’s function isn’t always familiar to newcomers to the area so the idea is to ensure that we remain a pillar of our community). Behind the cutouts is some buffed copper that should weather and ultimately oxidise to produce a blue/green patina similar to that seen on the roof of the Pump Room in Pittville Park for instance. We hope you like the sign and, by my reckoning, it’s been 45 years, 6 months and 13 days since the foundation stone was laid and there’s been no sign in all that time! (Please let me know if that’s not correct by the way.)

Our 2019 audit has been completed now that we finally gained access to one of the savings accounts (a long story!) having taken over the running of the hall from the previous committee in April 2019. In summary, our 2019 income and expenditure were both up on 2018. The net effect of this is an annual loss of just over 10% of our yearly income but there are still sufficient reserves in the accounts even though our cashflow is greatly reduced this year. The increase in income primarily came from two sources: new weekend bookings and bar takings. The bookings process has become a much easier affair with the creation of our website (svhall.co.uk), email address, a mobile phone number and an online media presence – crucial to all of this has been the Herculean efforts of Jana as our Booking Secretary who does an amazing job liaising with our regular groups and new bookings. The regular (until March’s lockdown anyway!) Friday night bars were another increased source of income and my thanks go to everyone involved in making them such a success. Whether you were a patron, bar volunteer or manager, or line cleaner (or even all four, T!) it has been great to feel our community spirit endure throughout the year – through the fine summer evenings right through the darkness of winter and back again. The expenditure grew by a third since 2018 but I hope you agree that the hall has seen some great improvements. Some of these investments are clear to see (such as the front door, curtains, bar TV and LED lighting), but others are less obvious (solar panels, smart thermostats, ambient cellar cooling, cavity wall insulation) but these will all help to improve the running efficiency and enable us to make further projects come to fruition (we’ve got a list of ideas that you’re welcome to add to if you have any suggestions!). Some of these measures already seem to have had an effect as our electricity and gas consumption are both lower than 2018 despite the hall being open for more hours. Our 2020 audit will be finalised early next year and presented at our deferred AGM next April (with any luck!) where we’ll be presenting both year’s audits and seeking to elect committee members (if you’re hiding a desire to participate in the local community then joining our committee is a great way to get involved – once we’re through this pandemic then it’s going to be all hands on deck; more parties, functions, improvements will undoubtably be the order of the day!)

In the meantime, the Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon so with no new announcements on vaccine developments since I last wrote here and the long, dark nights of winter beckoning, it’s time for us all to look out for each other and keep an eye and ear out for our neighbours. The Parish Council ran a community assistance group during the spring/summer lockdown and I’m expecting a similar group to be needed if stringent restrictions are once again enacted. The PC have a Facebook page (as do we!) and I encourage everyone to follow them to stay informed on both local developments and to seek help if you need it. Don’t suffer anything in silence, there’s always someone willing to listen and take action – I can be contacted via our email address or Facebook page should anyone need to reach out.

Till next time, take care of yourself and each other.

Ben

November 2020

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