Another year has passed quickly with the challenges that a cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine and political instability bring. We have been able to continue to operate a well regarded and popular community facility to a high standard whilst avoiding significant cost increases to our regular and casual users thanks to the small group of volunteers that forms our committee.
We have welcomed new members to that committee, with Kate Paterson taking over our busy bookings management, Owen Upton joining as Secretary and Alice Hughes taking over from Alison Eagles as our Bybrook Pre-school rep.
The hall remains well-used, with our regular users occupying virtually all available time during the working week and regular parties, wedding receptions, family events and other activities filling up most weekends throughout the year.
I’m very grateful to Kate for taking on responsibility for managing the hall bookings as having worn that hat for many years, I’m really appreciative of a break.
The hall has also been the hub of a number of village events in the past 12 months, including the always popular village fete, where as well as beer, sausages, cake and bale tossing some reflective time was taken to plant a tree in memory of the late Queen Elizabeth, with past and present YKRA members involved in the ceremony. Our extra bank holiday for the Coronation saw another party in the hall, with a second tree planted to mark the occasion by members of many village groups representing the community both young and old.
The Events group continue to entertain with the well-attended annual Quiz Night, a band night and a packed 80s night, all of which raise large sums for a wide range of village groups.
We are very grateful to Yatton Keynell Parish Council for allocating community “Section 106” funding from recent developments to us, allowing us to fully refurbish the kitchen this coming summer. It is a significant undertaking which would not have been possible without that funding, and will be undertaken by a local builder with connections to the village and the school.
The Committee Room has also been redecorated and new lighting fitted, and the main hall will be repainted this summer whilst the kitchen building work is in progress. We are fortunate to be able to be able to fund these improvements, having already redecorated the lobby and toilets recently.
Last year, we reported that some of the playground equipment was starting to fail, including one of the swings and the popular zip wire. We were able to replace the swing last summer with a high-quality product which should last for many years.
The zip wire reached a critical point earlier this year and although we had carried out some remedial work, it was clear that it was reaching an unsafe state and needed to be replaced. Our new Secretary, Owen Upton, has led the charge on fundraising, gaining funds from Hills and Wiltshire Council which have allowed us to invest more than £12,000 in a new zip wire, the installation of which began this week. It is a huge achievement to generate such a significant sum and I would like to thank Owen in particular for persevering and securing the much needed cash.
The tennis net continues to be a problem child, and further work will be needed elsewhere in the playground to improve the sand pit so the work that Stephen and Alan do in the background to maintain our outdoor facilities must be recognised as it prolongs the life of the equipment we have and means we can direct our funds to the areas most in need.
In addition to the fundraising mentioned previously for the kitchen and zip wire, we continue to be grateful to the Events group, the Village Stores, Fete and other individual fundraisers who help us financially.
Jim and team continue to keep the grounds in exceptional condition, and we have had to seek assistance from a tree surgeon to tackle the Acacia that sadly reached the end of its life and other larger trees on the site.
The natural hedging planted along the car park boundary has begun to thrive, and overall the grounds are in great shape.
Our Constitution, the rules and regulations of our organisation that set out how we govern ourselves, date from the 1970s and Owen is leading activities to modernise it, to ensure that the committee is governed in a modern way, given the protections it needs in an increasingly complex world of safeguarding, legislation and rigour in the running of charitable organisations. We intend to bring this new Constitution to the community for input before adopting it formally.
As ever, we need more help. The more people who can spare a small amount of time, the more we can achieve and the lighter the load is on each member of the committee. The coming year must see a significant drive to bring more members to the team so that we can continue to manage the hall and surroundings to a high standard and provide a hugely valuable facility to the community.
As ever, my thanks go to the small group of volunteers that form our Committee. Feedback from our users and the wider community is overwhelmingly positive and that is because of the hard work and time that you generously give. Thank you.