COUPLES planning their wedding party are being invited to have a look at a community building which has more than meets the eye.
The new caretaker at Whalton Village Hall, whose role includes promoting what it has to offer, is aiming to increase the number of bookings for receptions and evening celebrations once the bride and groom have tied the knot.
Wendy Payton-Greene says that people are pleasantly surprised when they see how spacious the main room is — it can comfortably seat 120 — and there is a decent kitchen to prepare food and other refreshments, as well as a front room that can be used to store extra equipment on the day.
“We also have a lovely terrace at the rear of the building, which offers a fantastic view of the countryside,” she added.
“Wedding parties have carte blanche to set up the hall to a particular theme and in certain styles as long as they don’t do any damage, and we’re hoping that once they have seen all the facilities here, they will be swayed to choose us.
“We provide excellent value for money and in today’s climate when people are counting their pennies, this will be an attractive proposition to people living in Morpeth and other surrounding villages, as well as Whalton. An increase in bookings will also help local businesses such as B&Bs and the Beresford Arms pub and we’re looking into a travel arrangement scheme to help bring people to Whalton after the wedding service.”
Treasurer Barry Swan said that wedding parties are able to come along the day before to set up the hall to their specifications and the day afterwards to clear away the decorations and other items.
The hall is currently used by a range of groups, including a local Women’s Institute, whist, an over 50s keep-fit class, gardening, mothers and toddlers and carpet bowls, as well as for birthday and children’s parties and special events, such as the annual village show and the British Deer Society’s AGM.
Mrs Payton-Greene is aiming to bring some new activities to the building, for example yoga, crafts and theatre, and is examining the potential for the front room to be used by businesses for meetings and small conferences.
She said: “It’s good for the soul of a village to bring people together as much as possible and so it’s important that a village hall holds a variety of events and sessions.
“Whalton has a decent range of groups and hopefully there will be a few more in the next year or two, but we also need money from people living outside the village if it is going to thrive in the future.”
The building was known as Whalton Victory Hall when it was opened on October 18, 1922. Eight years ago, it underwent a £300,000 refurbishment to modernise its facilities.
Mr Swan said: “Our main focus is getting people through the door because generally, people are impressed with the hall when they see what it has to offer.
“Ideally, we can reach a position where rental income covers all of our running costs. We have reduced the gap in the last couple of years, but at the moment we still need to do some fund-raising events and activities to make up the shortfall.”
For more information telephone 01670 775411 or email Mr Swan at email@example.com