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Grantham Journal Big Interview: Village hall saved for another three decades by couple

Janet and Tom Baker, with Sophie Hawley of award sponsor BGL Group.
Janet and Tom Baker, with Sophie Hawley of award sponsor BGL Group.

To be named a Community Hero you must have done something remarkable.

In Tom and Janet Baker’s case, it is something they have done for a truly remarkable 30 years. The couple took care of Barkston and Syston Village Hall for three decades, right through from switching on the heating in the early hours, to closing up late at night after one of their many successful events.

* How did you become caretakers of the village hall?

Tom: We became involved with the village hall soon after moving to the village in 1970. A letter was sent to all residents that the hall would close if a new committee was not formed. I attended the meeting and somehow got nominated as treasurer. I was involved with various positions, including as secretary and as a committee member, before finally finishing as treasurer, when I reached 70.

Janet: As we had three children I did not get involved until they were at school. The original booking secretary retired in around 1975, then the caretaker got married and I took on the caretaker’s position as well as the booking secretary in 1983. I continued to do both jobs until I reached 70.

* You organised lots of events during your 30 years – which were your favourites?

Over the years we could not really pick out a favourite. We organised jumble sales, craft fairs, dances, concerts and whist drives, and also helped to set up the short mat bowls which is still running today and which we both enjoy playing.

* How important do you think it is for the community to have a place like the village hall to meet?

The village hall was erected in 1908 by village volunteers, and is still going strong. It is an essential part of the village life.

* How did you feel about being nominated, and then winning the Community Hero Award?

Regarding being nominated, we did not know anything about it until we happened to see it in the Journal. Then to be named the winners – we were completely gob-smacked as there were others who had done so much for their community. We enjoyed our time serving on the committee, but without the help of ALL the other committee members, we could not have organised so many things. Our thanks go out to all committee members, past and present.


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