`

Hand-over for new village hall in community

From left, Alex Philipson and St Mary's Village Hall team Tracy Mears, Tracy Joisce (secretary), Beverley Byford (bookings/IT), Alex Levington (treasurer) and Daniel Flounders (publicity and marketing).
From left, Alex Philipson and St Mary's Village Hall team Tracy Mears, Tracy Joisce (secretary), Beverley Byford (bookings/IT), Alex Levington (treasurer) and Daniel Flounders (publicity and marketing).

Following an extensive refurbishment, Bellway Homes has handed over the former Chapel at Stannington Park to the local community.

And the St Mary’s Village Hall trustees are now looking for volunteers to help out with a range of tasks.

The hand-over took place at a garden party that they organised. More than 400 residents attended the event.

Event organiser and trustee of St Mary’s Village Hall, Janet Richardson, said: “We were absolutely delighted with how many people turned up to celebrate the opening of the new village hall.

“A tremendous amount of work has been done to reach this stage.

“We were particularly pleased to have Ronny and Doreen Johnston cut the ribbon – they had both worked at St Mary’s Hospital and were in fact the last to leave after its closure, locking the doors on the old hospital for the last time.”

Chairman of trustees, Tracey Mears, added: “The opening of the new village hall marks a new phase for the residents of Stannington Park.

“In reaching this important milestone, we have established a charity to maintain the village hall and we are very grateful for Bellway’s assistance in helping us set-up the charity and help fund the opening event, as well as providing chairs and tables and kitchen equipment for the hall.

“I would also like to thank Louise Curry, who is the Village Hall Advisor for Northumberland and works for Community Action Northumberland, for her guidance to help us to get to where we are today.

“The success of the opening clearly shows community support for the village hall, which we want to become an integral part of Stannington Park, and not just for the Park residents, but also for those who lived here before us in Stannington Villas.”

Following the opening, the trustees have already been approached by a number of community organisations that see the venue as a useful location for youth groups, children’s parties and keep fit groups for yoga and Pilates exercises among others.

Bellway sales manager Alex Philipson said: “From the outset, the development of Stannington Park has been one of our largest projects. A huge amount of work and consultation was undertaken at the initial stages.

“Our overall objective was to create a traditional village community that benefited from all the amenities you would expect to find in a village, but with homes benefiting from 21st century accommodation.

“The opening of the village hall is a significant element in this work and we wish the residents and the trustees all success for the future.”

Steeped in history and located within a Grade II-listed Park and Garden, the hall is located in the former St Mary’s Hospital Chapel, which dates back to the early 1900s and has been fully restored to its original charm.

Inside the hall, the original parquet flooring can be seen in all its glory, alongside a sketch of Winston Churchill found during demolition work that took place on other parts of the site.

The trustees are not paid for this role and they are currently looking for more volunteers to assist with tasks such as helping out at parties and working on the bar. To find out more or get involved, email hall@stmarys.community