A fifteen year fund-raising battle to replace an old village hall has received a major boost from the National Lottery.
In its third attempt to obtain funding from the Big Lottery Fund, the Ropsley Village Hall committee has received £495,000.
Delighted villagers still have £250,000 to find, but they are now confident they can submit plans for a new village hall in the New Year, with completion some time in 2018 or early 2019.
Ropsley Village Hall, along with its six-acre playing field, is situated at the north east of the village at the junction of Peck Hill and Braceby Road. Built in 1949, the hall is formally known as Ropsley Memorial Hall in memory of those who died during World War Two.
The building was extended, with kitchens, during the 1950s but both this and the original hall has needed constant maintenance in recent years.
Increasingly, the building became too small for the growing village and the Village Hall Committee decided a major refurbishment or rebuild was necessary or there was a real risk that in the near future the village hall would close for good.
In 2002, the committee launched a savings plan and when it reached £60,000 in 2004, a building survey was commissioned, which revealed the hall was no longer fit for purpose and was unsustainable.
After extensive consultations with the community, draft designs were drawn up for a hall project costed at £860,000.
Paul Mason, who chairs a village hall steering group, said he was ecstatic to receive the £495,000 lottery funding.
“It was our third attempt. We have been turned down twice. It’s been a slow process but this is a major boost for us.”
The £495,000 from the Big Lottery Fund will be added to the other fund-raising pledged from the community and village hall funds.
But the race is on the make up a £250,000 shortfall as the lottery says the money must be raised by April.
Mr Mason said: “Hopefully, the hall will be built and finished within a year of that. Planning permission will hopefully be applied for in January 2018.”
To help, the Big Lottery Fund has offered the use of one of its mentors to help the village hall committee seek out other sources of funding, including other organisations who could also give them grant aid. Such a mentor has also helped other villages, including nearby Heydour, in their bids for vital funding.
Mr Mason said: “The simple aim of our project is to ensure we can secure a village hall for current and future generations.
“We wish to provide a wider range of regular activities accessible by all, not only for Ropsley residents, but also those from surrounding villages and town, providing a sense of personal involvement within a local community.”
Nationally, the Big Lottery Fund awarded £713 million to 14,000 UK projects.
England Grant Manager James Harcourt said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this project to provide a new community hall, bringing local people together to enjoy. It’s great to see National Lottery funding improving facilities for communities, improving their health and wellbeing.”
People, firms or organisations who can help Ropsley Village Hall Committee make up its £250,000 shortfall be it through cash or kind can ring Paul Mason on 01476 585729.