Our AGM seems to be upon us very quickly after the last, which is absolutely the case as we begin to realign our meetings to their normal calendar appearance following a gap due to COVID restrictions. It is great to see those restrictions start to drift away, with usage of the hall and playing fields increasing accordingly.
I reported last year that we were beginning to see users returning to the hall, and that pattern has continued, with our bookings calendar now very much filling up, with a mix of events including wedding receptions, family gatherings, the regular pattern of childrens’ parties and the return of larger community events.
In November, the popular Village Quiz returned; January saw another hugely successful Skittles Night, hosted by Chris & Kathy Hutton and Andy & Claire Frances and helpers. In March a crowd enjoyed an evening of music with The Shadow Monkeys and the next Band Night is already in the diary in October with local musician and supporter of the hall Henry Ray Herrera taking to the stage with his band.
The Village Fete takes another September slot with the hope of as much sunshine and footfall as in 202.
Having completed refurbishment of the Tony Read Room, we have been able to take a breather from significant refurbishment, with some decorating and minor repairs undertaken.
We hope that funding provided by Persimmon Homes from their development at Farrells Field will become available to help support further work in the hall, with a revamp of the kitchen and the installation of solar panels being potential projects we are considering.
The playground is now protected by a vastly improved fence, constructed by Jim Bruce Scott and his team. Not only does it offer much greater security allowing parents to relax, it also vastly improves the look of the area compared to the wire fencing.
Repairs to the Zip Wire have allowed us to avoid replacing it however it is clear that we need to begin to allocate budget to do so in the future. Replacement of at least one of the swing frames is now our next project to tackle. Although not yet critical, we have responded to recent safety inspections by removing one swing from service as a precautionary measure.
Although a popular facility, it’s unfortunate that we continue to suffer costly damage to the tennis net and we are now considering whether to control access to the court. Originally built as a multi-sport court, we will need to review whether we can continue to provide a quality tennis facility in the space as the repeated damage is not something we can continually repair.
With casual hiring, local groups and other events all contributing to our income much more strongly than during COVID, we have been less reliant on grants and other fundraising, however the costs of maintaining and, in particular, heating the hall continue to rise and we always welcome suggestions on how we can generate funds to keep the facilities in good shape.
Removal of the overgrown conifers along the car park has been completed, a post-and-rail fence installed to deter people from entering Combe View on bikes and scooters, and hedging planted along the boundary, with a specimen tree also planted. We will continue to review the planting along the perimeter as it begins to mature.
Elsewhere, the grounds continue to be maintained to a high standard by Jim and his team.
Although we have been able to progress a number of important projects and maintain the hall to a high standard this year, there are still a number of areas where we need help.
We continually struggle to source and retain quality, flexible cleaning services that fit around our user groups – any recommendations or contacts greatly welcomed.
We would also love to see some new members joining our Committee. Spreading the workload across more people naturally means that each person can reduce their time commitment a little, and new ideas and energy are particularly welcomed. If something is holding you back from joining, please do tell us what it is – as we may be able to resolve it!
I must once again give my thanks to the small group of volunteers that form our Committee. We continue to operate a popular, well-reviewed, clean, safe and fun environment for the local community and all of you contribute hugely to that cause. My thanks as always for being part of our team.