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Villagers save parish hall that was just two weeks from bankruptcy

By Sue Austin | St Martins | News | Published:

A village hall that was two weeks from bankruptcy at the beginning of the year has completely turned around, thanks to a small group of volunteers and an anonymous financial gift.

The work has saved not only Criftins Parish Hall, in the village, near St Martins, but also the post office, tennis courts and bowling green, the football pitch and the village allotments.

This week saw new postmasters, Lynn and Ian Johnson, open the post office inside the hall on a full-time basis, saying they were excited about the future.

They are urging customers to support the post office and let them know how they would like it to develop.

"It might be that they would like us to stock essentials like bread and milk. Or they might want us to sell stationary and items for wrapping parcels," Lynn said.

"We live in Ellesmere but have always had to travel for work and it is so nice to feel part of the community."

Kay Egerton, one of the trustees, said problems begin when the franchisee left last year and the post office was closing.

The stark reality was made clear to the committee that the parish hall was two weeks from bankruptcy," she said.

"The future looked extremely black. With no money there would be no parish hall, no Post Office and consequently no Criftins Tennis Club, no Criftins Bowls Club, no Criftins Football Club and no allotments.

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"Not one of the dedicated trustees wanted this to happen, we could not let our parish hall close. then out of the darkness came a very generous financial gift which gave the trustees the possibility of keeping our amazing parish hall open."

The trustees and some dedicated volunteers set about cleaning and painting the hall, bar and cellar over several Saturdays and look for ways of making it pay.

John Dulson and Anthony and Helen Gillham decided to open the bar with voluntary bar staff, generating enough money to buy a new electronic till, glass washer, ice maker, all the new signage and lighting outside and new lights in the foyer."

"The biggest expense has been the 16 CCTV cameras inside and outside the building to comply with the licencing laws. We could not have a bar without CCTV. Days of hard work by Brian Davies, Andy Bellis and John Baker installing the system meant the cost was cut from £12,000 to £4,000."

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Many fundraising events have taken place including concerts, dances, magic, table top sales and a quiz.

The most recent purchase has been the second hand skittles alley with every Thursday evening seeing 64 people playing in a skittles tournament."

"The monthly coffee club has also been an amazing success and the calendar for 2019 is already set. We also have hopes for grants for the future. A huge thank you goes to all the volunteers. Whether the job took an hour or a week it has made a difference and we would not be here now without you."

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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