Village Halls – the unsung heroes

25 January 2021

To celebrate Village Halls Week 2021, our Chair of Trustees, David Sharp, tells us about the importance and relevance of village halls and why they deserve such celebration.

So we all know where our local village hall or community building is don’t we!

For those of you that do and use them on a regular basis, you know their importance, the value they bring and the sense of community they create.

For those of you that don’t, perhaps by reading this you will go out, when lockdown allows, and find out what’s going on and hopefully get involved.

Village halls have been providing amazing community based services and support for over 100 years. The diversity of activities that take part in village halls is astounding, from Scouts and Guides, WI, lunch clubs, Weight Watchers, bridge clubs, parties, national celebrations and the list goes on. They provide the location for the weird, wonderful and exceptional as well as the essential to take place in rural localities.

The lifeline that the different activities create for the vulnerable, lonely and isolated, as well as the community spirt generated through regularly meeting up to participate in your favourite activity, cannot be underestimated.

Clearly the government 100 years ago saw the benefits and as such created an initiative to support the rural communities following the Great War. This helped set up the first Rural Community Council in Oxfordshire. Yorkshire wasn’t slow to take this initiative up and created its own in 1928. During the next few years, hundreds of village halls were built, refurbished and brought back to life. Today there are over 600 that are over 100 years old. How many other local businesses can say they are over 100 years old – not that many!

They have been tested, the War to follow the Great War, apparently there was a 60’s if anyone can remember it, oil crisis in the 70’s, Yuppies in the 80’s, Brit pop in the 90’s, War on Terror in the 00’s and now Brexit and a global pandemic.

So that tells me that not only are they really needed but also incredibly resilient. That is down to the amazing volunteers involved in village halls, giving thousands of hours of time to make sure that Granny Sharp has everything she needs for her 90th birthday party to sweeping the floor so the ballroom dancing class can glide effortlessly across the polished floor.

In Yorkshire we have over 900 village halls which are being looked after by volunteers and Village Hall Week is all about celebrating them. So my thanks to each and every one of you involved in village halls, be that staff, volunteers or patrons. Your commitment, passion and enthusiasm for making your village hall the hub of your community is greatly appreciated and although we only have Village Hall Week once a year, every time the doors open should be celebrated because of the work needed to do just that.

To find out what’s happening during Village Halls Week 2021 visit the ACRE website.

If you would like to write a blog about your village hall, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!

Find out what support we can offer village halls and community buildings here.