I am pleased to report that at our recent hall AGM, the trustees were able to report that currently, our hall is doing well and financially secure. 2022 proved a good year following Covid and lockdowns with the signs for this year just as promising. We do consider our hall to be one of the best in the area, competitively priced with excellent facilities. If you feel we could improve it in some way, please let us know. If you would like a copy of the AGM minutes when published, please let us know, and we can email a copy to you.
Unfortunately, our hall has a long-term booking for a wedding over the Coronation weekend in May so we will not be able to hold a street party at the hall as we did for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee last year.
We will be replacing the Radiator covers in the main hall in the coming weeks as the existing covers, which have served us well are no longer fit for purpose. We are replacing them with a more robust metal type which we hope will stand up better to wear and tear. If successful, we will replace the other remaining covers
Our gardening Saturday dates are April 15th and May 20th do join us for an hour or two of light gardening duties, a chat with friends and refreshments We start at around 9.30 am and until midday.
2022 is our hall’s first full year of business following two years of Covid closures, restrictions and mask-wearing, but I am pleased to say it has been a good one, which has seen continued growth with bookings. We now have 3 or 4 regular monthly bookings from clubs of 4-5 hours; these monthly time slots are now helping to fill the less popular times, such as Sunday afternoons and evenings, which have in the past remained sparsely used.
This year saw the building of an extension to our storeroom behind the kitchen, adding valuable storage space to the hall, although it has largely already been eaten up. This extension cost us a little over £50k to build, but we received grants totalling £30k towards this project. We also completed the purchase of the strip of land between us and OTG, commonly known as a ransom strip from Rydons, after which we erected a much-needed fence along the boundary. This was funded by Baxalls as thanks for our cooperation with the school build. As a bonus, we managed to sell our Heras fencing along this boundary to Baxalls for use on the old school site. Along this new boundary fence, we have planted around 120 hedging trees supplied by the Woodland Trust, which long term, we hope will shield us from OTG.
During 2022 we also purchased 14 round tables with two tablecloth options, complete with a trolley to add to the hall hire options, especially with functions in mind; we have also purchased a floor scrubbing machine which has proved an excellent asset for Saskia in keeping the floors of the hall clean. We also looked at adding Solar panels last year, encouraged by a TMBC initiative, but we felt the return on cost was not currently a sound investment for us.
In June, we held a street party at the hall to celebrate the Queens Platinum Jubilee celebrating her 70 years of reign, supported by the Platt Fundraisers. Unfortunately, the weather proved unreliable on the day, so we held it inside with about 100 people attending, all enjoying afternoon tea, sandwiches and cakes, along with fun and games. We also had a visit from the Deputy lieutenant of Kent to add to the occasion. Also, during this year, as part of the Queens Green Canopy, we have planted a number of trees in our garden, many of which were donated by clubs, groups or individuals.
In November, the Platt War Memorial Hall celebrated its 100th anniversary from when the first hall was built in 1922. Fronted, Researched and put together by Scott Wishart, the three-day exhibition was a great occasion enjoyed by many from our village, but also for those who came from afar with connections to our village and memorial. The exhibition proved an outstanding success, with many memories and stories that were long forgotten but brought back to life as you wandered through the decades set out within the exhibition. During the exhibition, which was free entry, we offered refreshments, and the proceeds of £320 were donated to the KSS Air Ambulance. A remarkable event also supported by the fundraisers and the Platt Parish Council; well done to Scott with just 9 more volumes of his books remaining to compile!
Last Year we donated £1000 to the Ukrainian war appeal on behalf of our village, and we have done the same this year, supporting the Turkey/Syrian earthquake appeal.
At the end of last year, we decided, with the ever-increasing running costs brought on in the main by soaring energy prices, to increase hall hire rates for commercial users from the 1st of January, but hold local rates until June this year when we will need to look for a new energy deal. Current thinking is that hire rates will need to increase again, but this remains subject to world events outside our control. We have also increased our wedding and Saturday night party rates significantly to help us avoid troublesome alcohol-fuelled events taking place, with a complete no to teenage parties and up to 25 years of age.
As always, our hall would not run without its nucleus of volunteers, so I would like to say thank you to Jane Jewitt and the regular gardening team, who help keep our gardens looking great by turning up at least once a month for our gardening Saturdays. We would also like to thank The Hardy Plants Society, who are like the mole that seems to have made itself at home at the back of the hall; we never actually catch a glimpse of them but only see what they leave behind!
I would also like to extend thanks to our management team of trustees who help run our hall; without who, it just would not happen. Extra thanks go to David Cox, our treasurer, for keeping our finances in perfect order, and to Dave Crackles, our secretary the job no one wants and also for keeping our hall safe with weekly fire and safety checks, and to Scott for keeping our website and Facebook page all up to date and running smoothly. We would also thank our bookings secretary Rachael, and Saskia, for keeping our hall clean and tidy and so much more.
Looking ahead to this year and following the recent redecoration of both halls and stores, we will be looking to re-decorate all remaining areas in our hall this coming year. We will also look to replace the radiator covers in the main hall with a more robust type. Our current ones have served us well, considering what they are, but are no longer fit for purpose.
We consider our hall one of the best in our area, competitively priced with excellent facilities; we strive to keep it that way.
David Vallance. Chairman of Trustees