The Hall exists thanks to the volunteer work carried out by the Committee members in particular in keeping the hall clean and tidy and overseeing the maintenance of the playing field both of which are a great asset to the village. Also thanks to the Investment sub committee members who have given their time and expertise on a matter I will come on to in due course.
We started our financial year in a reasonably healthy state but soon the effects of rising oil and electricity prices coupled with the fact we lost one of our most lucrative hirers along with the Parish Council support grant being withdrawn meant we were eating into our reserves every month. So we had to make the unwelcome decision to put up our hire charges.
We then had two major problems firstly with the Hall electric circuits which seemed randomly to trip out and then secondly we noticed a large crack had appeared in the front wall of the building.
As a result of the first problem we had a full electric survey conducted and remedial work undertaken. It took a while but now everything is fixed. We also applied to Essex County Council for a grant to replace the old cooker (which was one of the problems) and we were successful so hot food can now be prepared without the electrics tripping out.
In terms of the crack in the building, we notified our insurers who instructed a specialist company to investigate. The outcome was that it is subsidence but fortunately we are covered for it subject to a £1000 excess and the insurers have accepted liability.
The cause they believe are roots from the neighbouring oak and conifer trees coupled with the long, hot, dry summer. They appointed an arborist to look at the trees and they will most probably have to be taken down but we are awaiting their final decision.
You couldn’t help but notice the bare patch in the children’s playground where the new basket ball area was planned to be. It was to be funded by Section 106 money. We, and the Parish Council met with Braintree District Council last summer to try to resolve the matter but it has taken until the last couple of weeks for them to Ok the works which are now underway.
Staying with the playground we were grateful to receive a bequest from the late Dorothy Gardner which allowed us to complete the renovation of the children’s swings with two new baby cradles and a new sponge surface beneath the swings.
It was with great sadness that we lost two of our staunch supporters in the last year, Dianna Hulkes and Lawrence Rawlinson. To recognise Dianna’s support we paid for a carpet bowls trophy to be played for each year in her memory.
Lawrence as most people know was our volunteer groundsman for more years than I can count and he used to cut the grass on the recreation ground. Come rain or shine he could be seen with his flat cap on driving the tractor. He was an institution and we were very grateful for his commitment to the Village Hall.
I and the rest of the Committee were lost for words when we received a letter from the solicitors, who were his executors, saying that he had left his entire estate to the Village Hall in his will.
Having met with the solicitors we decided to set up a sub-committee to look into our options. The sub-committee have spent many hours deciding what was best for the Village Hall and what was a fitting legacy for Lawrence.
The decision the subcommittee came to was to retain his bungalow, do the necessary remedial works and rent it out.
The rental income should assure the viability of the Village Hall for many years to come and the asset of the bungalow will grow in value so if any time in the future there is a need for substantial cash injection it is there to secure the future of the Village Hall.
Looking forward we have put together a list of projects we would like to undertake in the coming years and in no particular order they are:
To install external electric points for use at the fete and for the Christmas tree.
To install some subtle lighting in the hall
To further improve the sound proofing in the hall
To redecorate the Rawlinson Room
To progress the installation of a hearing loop in the Hall
To install additional play equipment for younger children
To fence in the play area
To enlarge the parking area
To build a new storage shed for the tractor mowers etc.
To paint the exterior of the hall and to undertake some serious tree maintenance on the recreation ground.
So we look forward to continue to provide a facility we can be proud of and continue to enhance it as funds allow.
Colin Golding
Chairman Shalford Village Hall Management Committee
12th April 2023