Umborne Institute Hall
The report this year is dominated by the demolition of the old hall & construction of this new building & the related events during this period.
At the last AGM, the decision to proceed with a new hall build was confirmed although at that time, when taking into account funds raised by the community (£38,000), & the Grants awarded by the CCD & EDDC (£27,000), the budget showed a deficit of over £20,000. To meet this deficit the Umborne Bond Scheme was launched. This scheme run under FSA guidelines raised over £13,000 in redeemable bonds to provide the cash flow needed to ensure the build project could continue uninterrupted. Before the build had actually started the Trustees also secured another grant for £11,000, from the East Devon AONB Sustainable Development Fund . With these funds in place, if the project could be kept on budget, then it could be completed as planned.
The final night in the hall was a joyous if crowded affair, with many people relating stories of events held in the 62 year history of the old building. Some of the attendees remembered its construction & all were pleased that what we all used to refer as the Nissen Hut was not to be just demolished but that the Trustees had given the hall to the SouthWest Airfield Heritage Trust to dismantle to be re-assembled back at Dunkeswell Airfield as a Museum where it had come from 62 years previously.
This story & the Halls history created a great deal of media attention resulting in many interviews & studio visits by the Trustees.
The hall was dismantled, starting the 11th March, & a mystery was solved. The Nissen Hut turned out, as some had expected, to be a Quonset Hut, a now much rarer type of building, apparently the frame is slightly different for those who wish to know.
To enable the project to remain on budget, a number of jobs were undertaken by volunteer labour & this brought out what was referred to in 1948 as the “undauntable spirit” of the people of the valley. Large numbers turned up to undertake manual work, & tedious tasks without complaint, ensuring that expensive contractor time was not wasted. Equipment, expertise, & materials were donated from throughout the community whenever they were required.
The new hall was opened on the 16th October by Mrs Lillian Bird who donated the ground for the new car park, & Mrs Dolly Blackmore the longest surviving member of the Umborne Womens Institute who had the old hall constructed in 1948. This was just 400 days from the Trustees being awarded the first grant.
During the build the Trustees continued to organise fundraising & social events at various venues locally. Many thanks to all those who have allowed us to use their properties during this period. It has been very pleasing to see many new faces at our events & also many older faces who have returned to the fray prompted by the year’s events.
As sure as new faces appear then some move on & it is with particular sadness that we said goodbye to our secretary Geoff Elliot & his wife Lyn who moved away to be nearer family. We thank Geoff for his work on the Trust.
Since the new hall has been opened, the level of bookings has increased remarkably. We pay thanks to Rosemary Hewson who has continued as bookings’ secretary. She informs me we have just taken our first booking for a Wedding Reception.
The Hall Website has proved an invaluable aid in disseminating information this year & we thank Bill Corr & the Tech Committee for their work in this area. It continues to develop & adapt to the community’s needs.
As the hall is used, the Trustees are aware that its limitations will become apparent. As with all projects there have to be compromises to meet a limited budget & this is no exception. The challenge to the Trustees for the coming year is to work to overcome the compromises & to improve the access & usability of the hall to all sections of our community.
Chaiman of Trustees.