Ranil Jayawardena MP returned to Hook on Friday 16th October to officially open the refurbished Hook Community Centre. Two years in the making, the centre opened its doors for business in May to delighted comments from surprised residents that it was like a completely new building and how clean, light and airy it was.
Speaking to a packed hall of guests who are or had been involved with the project, hirers, past hirers, local businesses and residents who had been disrupted by the building works, Ranil said: “Having grown up in Hook and seen the village change over the years, I’m pleased that it retains its sense of community today. It’s great to see the new facilities provided by this community centre, which is just what the people of Hook wanted. I should like to thank Hook Parish Council and Hook Village Halls Charitable Association (HVHCA) for all their work in making this a reality.”
Left to right: Iain Chalmers (Chairman of Hook Parish Council),
Robert Leppard (HVHCA director and lead parish councillor during the construction),
Clare Greenwood (HVHCA community facilities manager), Ranil Jayawardena MP,
Anne Atkins (Clerk of Hook Parish Council), David Butler (Chairman of HVHCA).
Chairman of Hook Parish Council, Councillor Iain Chalmers, who welcomed everyone and introduced Ranil to the guests said, “Hook continues to develop as a community and grow.
“The community centre project represents the end of a long journey, and one to which many people from all parts of the community have contributed, many of whom are here today. The result is a community centre fit for the future of our thriving community, both business and residential.
I also want to thank our Parish Clerk, Anne Atkins, because without her foresight and determination this project would have been extremely difficult to achieve.”
Iain finished by saying, “We are also delighted that HVHCA are our partners in running the village halls,” and then introduced David Butler, Chairman of HVHCA the charity that is responsible for running both the Elizabeth Hall and Hook Community Centre.
“I must congratulate the vision that was exercised by Hook Parish Council in re-furbishing the old, draughty community centre into something of such enormous potential benefit to the village,” said Dave Butler, “I urge anyone who has not had a chance to have a look round to do so as soon as they can.
I also want to give public thanks to our directors, community facilities manager and every member of her staff for their commitment in getting things operational so well before, during and following formal handover, despite a number of what can only be called operational difficulties due to inevitable constructional and other delays. Well done everybody.
Being a volunteer director of HVHCA is so rewarding and we have a great team but we do need more, so if anyone is interested in doing something for the heart of the community, please get in touch,” concluded Dave.
There are three main halls, Sheldon, Bartley and Holt, each with their own kitchen facilities, for hire by everyone.
Hook Community Centre is also home to five permanent organisations:
- Little folk now have a brand new facility in the Hook Community Nursery with its own kitchen, toilets and free flow play areas.
- The Base Youth Centre which has been running since the 1980s to serve the youth of Hook has a superb area with its own access, kitchen and toilets.
- The Squash Club has new courts with a viewing gallery and changing facilities.
- The Parish Council now has new offices with a councillors’ meeting room next door.
- Already Hartletts Cafe is becoming a hub of village life and people are meeting up regularly for coffee in the morning, lunch and tea. Open for long hours, it is a pleasant meeting place.
Other useful facilities will soon include free WiFi, online access to Citizens Advice and in the future a library kiosk.
Hook Village Halls, the Elizabeth Hall and Hook Community Centre, are managed by Hook Village Halls Charitable Association, which is a not for profit organisation under the leadership of a board of volunteer directors and are run day to day by a team of paid staff.
HVHCA is also arranging, or bringing in, a number of specific events which will be attractive to all age groups. Look out for summer activities next year.
If organisations are interested in hiring any of the facilities at either the Elizabeth Hall or Hook Community Centre they should ring the HVHCA office on 01256 764000. For more information visit www.hookvillagehalls.org.uk.