Annual Report of the Charity, for the year to 30th June 2016
Early in 2016, Malcolm Grace, one of our Trustees, fell ill while on holiday, and is now unlikely to return to the Village. He has been a Trustee for a number of years, and was always a willing and cheery volunteer for various tasks around the Hall. So it is with sadness that we must report that he is not being re-elected as a Trustee at the AGM. However, I would like to note our appreciation for all he has done for the Village Hall and for Beech, in the years he has been living here. We wish him well.
We now seek a volunteer to specifically fulfil one particular role which Malcolm managed – looking after and checking the catering and kitchen equipment that the Hall has for its hirers and for social events.
To understand more about this, please make contact with any of the Management Committee members that you know.
Improvements to the Hall over the past year
The building and maintenance work set out here was led by Ian Gibson and his small team.
We have refurbished the Toilets , out of our own funds, with no grant or other assistance. This was achieved under budget, but it has cost close to £20,000. We are much happier with the standard they are now at, as being suitable for a modern facility for the village. With the tile finish, it should last many years, with simpler cleaning.
We have installed Wifi in the Hall. We came to do this because WiFi is a facility that is expected nearly everywhere these days, and we believe that users and hirers of the Hall should have it, rather like running water, as a normal part of the Hall’s facilities. We have not properly explored the full opportunities that this represents – for example using the Hall for viewing films, or sporting events, as a community or social event. We did advertise the Annexe for use by villagers who have very poor internet speeds, as experienced by those connected to the Medstead exchange. The idea was that it might be used as an internet office facility for a small cost contribution, so called it the Annexe Internet Club. The aim was to provide a facility for those villagers who would like to work at home from time to time, but have difficulty with their own broadband connection. So far the take-up has been very low, however. This does not matter in itself, and it is still available for those who might like it.
We were warned by the Police and the local Neighbourhood Watch, that the Green outside the Hall was vulnerable to being occupied by Travellers. In response we have put up stout oak posts to deny unauthorised access to the grass. This was funded by our Parish Council, and also a small grant accessed for us by Mark Kemp Gee, our Hampshire County Councillor. Clearly we did not want this Charity to be responsible for the distress that such an event would cause our neighbours, quite apart from the damage it might do to the Hall as a community facility.
We also have acquired a new marquee for the use of the Village Hall, and for hire. The two old ones had reached the end of their lives, and so we have replaced them with one of a higher quality. The new one was up on the Green for a few weeks in the summer, but attracted the attention of some thieves who must have been disturbed as they were dismantling it. Nothing of it was actually taken away, but sadly it shows we cannot be complacent about the honesty of all in the locality. As the Hall is popular for weddings and parties, the new marquee will be a useful asset, both for the Village, and for hirers.
In early 2016 a storm brought down a nearby oak tree across Medstead Road, and as our oak beside it was of similar age and size, and on the Hall’s border, we have had to have it felled, as it was also deemed to be in dangerous condition. This has been an unexpected call on our funds. There are still oak logs at the back of the Hall, by Medstead Road which can be taken by any Beech villager who has the equipment to safely handle them. This must be on a first come-first served basis.
We will soon have more Play Equipment installed on the Green, 80% funded by Veolia and a grant contribution by Tony Costigan (our East Hampshire District Councillor). The remaining balance was met by the Hall’s restricted fund for play equipment. The existing play equipment on the Green has been very popular with villagers for entertaining children in the village. This was installed in 2013, and is for children of a young age. Of course, the main benefit of having this on a communal space is so that users, parents and grandparents, can meet there and use the equipment as a community and social event. We have responded to a request to provide something for the older child in the same place, so as to allow something for all children up to the age of 14. Clearly families will have children of various ages, so we are sure this will be a benefit for many in Beech. We have been careful to lay it out so that it will not restrict the lovely open space that the Green provides. A new bench (suitable for adults) will be installed near the new rope climber at the same time. In addition to the new rope climber and bench on the Green, our attention has also turned to the Recreation Ground, and a picnic bench will be installed on the Recreation Ground at the same time. This work for the children of Beech has been led by Management Committee members Ruth Dewing and Anne Whitaker.
Ruth has also set up a Facebook page for the Hall, which in addition to our pages on the Village website, is for informing many villagers as possible of the social and fun events at the Hall, and the opportunities for socialising with their neighbours and friends in Beech. The Facebook page has proved quite popular with many in the Village who are Facebook and social media users.
The hiring of the Hall, managed by Peter Cox, has, as usual, been the main successful revenue source for the Charity. During the year, we have lost two regular hirers due to their own financial issues, and are still looking for a regular hirer for the Wednesday evenings.
Please make Peter aware if you know a group or club who might like to hire the Hall on that day.
As many villagers will know a claim for compensation was brought against the Hall by a visitor to the Hall in February 2012, who slipped in icy conditions. We can report that early in 2016 this claim was settled, by the Hall’s insurers, for an undisclosed sum. We have ensured that our ice and snow clearance policy is in place so as to reduce the risk to visitors in slippery conditions. Clearly, however we cannot entirely eliminate such a risk, nor the risk of litigation on the Hall.
Thanks and appreciation
This year the Hall has been the beneficiary of two public-spirited villagers making substantial monetary gifts to the Hall. Both wished to remain anonymous, and both donated similar sums, entirely independently of each other. The anonymous donors know who they are, and this is a moment when we can express gratitude to them, on behalf of the Hall Management Committee and the Charity, and on behalf of the villagers of Beech – as the money is of course used for the benefit of the community. Clearly when we benefit from such a gift, it is enormously useful to help the Hall make improvements and keeping up the maintenance, for the benefit of the Village. It is perhaps also a sign of how successful the Hall is, as an asset for the Village’s community spirit, that villagers wish to make such a gift as appreciation.
We are also grateful for the generosity by one of our village neighbours who paid to have the Hall gutters professionally cleaned, at the same time as their own. This assistance with the Hall’s running costs is very much appreciated. This is an opportunity to thank formally the Beech Parish Council, East Hampshire District Council, Hampshire County Council and Veolia, as well as the village donors, for the gifts and grants awarded to the Beech Village Hall.
In the early summer, Saman Jayalath set up a 100 Club, where a £60 ticket buys 12 chances of winning a £200 prize, drawn monthly at each Village Social. This has proved popular, and the winners to date have been very pleased that their £60 ticket has gained them a £200 prize. We plan to repeat the monthly draw next year. Of course, it also raises funds for the Village Hall, and so we must thanks those who have taken part, as well as Saman for all the energy used in selling the tickets.
Turning to the many Volunteers who do so much for the Village and its Hall, we must also thank them again for their huge efforts this year. Last year this Annual Report focussed on them, as individuals and the work they do. We also know that such community work brings its own rewards, and is enjoyable as activities shared with neighbours and friends. This includes
the many Social Events for the Villagers, set up and run by the Social Committee, including the people manning the kitchen and bar at such events,
the hiring of the Hall, and marketing it as a venue for clubs, classes, parties, and weddings
the cleaning and maintenance of the buildings and grounds by the Maintenance and Building team, and the Mowing team
the work done to keep the books and finances of the Hall in order
the fund raising efforts of Saman Jayalath for the 100 Club
the communications work on the Village Website and Facebook
the constitutional and regulatory work for the Charity
The Trustees of the Charity for the year have been Nick Charman, Ian Gibson, Anne Whitaker, and Malcolm Grace. Malcolm Grace will not seek re-election for the coming year, for reasons explained earlier. Ruth Dewing has kindly agreed to seek election as a Trustee for the coming year. The Management Committee is also attended by Jane Short (for the Social Committee) and Peter Cox (Hiring Manager). Myles Scott resigned as a Management Committee member in the year, due to his developing career, and we wish him well. This small Management Committee, and the Social Committee, cannot do all that is involved for the smooth running of the Hall, and its Social events. This involves that much larger group of individuals who contribute their time and effort towards the Hall.
We know that such activity is (mostly!) fun, and a reward in itself, and we will always welcome help from villagers who would like to “join in”. We particularly invite those new to the Village to come to our monthly last-Friday community socials , to share and see what a special and welcoming community we have, with the Village Hall at its heart.
Chair, Management Committee, and Trustee.