December 2020

The second lockdown starting on the 5th November offered up a dilemma of whether or not we were allowed to hold our service of remembrance under the new rules, but we decided we could go ahead – albeit under strict guidelines. In the end, we had around just 20 people attend in total which did not create any problems with social distancing. Unfortunately, the Scouts were told they could not be there so a representative laid three wreaths on their behalf.

By the time you re-visit the Hall, you may well notice that we have lost some (or most)of the planted area to the north side of the building. This is due to our gardens encroaching on to what was school land and whilst we disputed small elements of the boundary line we have come to an amicable agreement with the school and KCC where we lose more to the front, but gain additional space to the rear where we can transplant many of the trees and plants that have to make way. In a gesture of goodwill, Baxalls will help with the relocation of many of these larger trees/plants and also put up a new fence between us and OTG.

It is our intention to proceed next spring with the office / Store extension to the rear of the hall, and to this end, Tom Roberts has for the last eight months been making applications on our behalf for some possible funding to help pay for this, I can report that to date he has managed to secure £20k in funding from Garfield Weston (£5k) and Ibstock Enovert Trust (£15k) and with having lost most of our income for this year will help us considerably, with the possibility that there is still more to come from other funders.

Barry Baker has been our bookings secretary for around 8 years or more, but with the success of the hall, it has grown into a huge job for a volunteer so we are employing Rachael Mellings who many of you will know from fundraisers. She is currently working with us now and will be taking on this role from January. We are also looking to use a new online booking system called Hallmaster which we are currently trialing with the aim it will be operational by early next year.

Apart from the need to carry out the transplanting as mentioned above, our Saturday gardening sessions will end over the Christmas/winter period and will return in March or April. This has been a difficult year for many but I would like to thank our group of trustees and the many gardeners, the Hardy Plants Society, and the people that have kept our hall going through this year – especially Saskia Hull and Dave Crackles who have been carrying out all the necessary maintenance jobs during lockdowns, we look forward to seeing you all return in 2021.

Since writing this report we have discovered that once lockdown ends on the 3rd December we will find ourselves in Tier 3 along with the rest of Kent, which means of course we are not allowed to open the hall under any circumstances, so it will remain closed even for the exercise and fitness classes which were previously allowed. This also means it’s very likely the hall will remain closed until the New Year.

David Vallance, Chairman of Trustees