Work begins on Great Dunham's new hall

Richard ParrIt's been a decade in the making but yesterday villagers at Great Dunham, near Dereham, saw work begin on their new �450,000 village hall.Now everyone involved in the project to provide the village with a new community focal point will be counting down the days until the hall is completed.Richard Parr

It's been a decade in the making but yesterday villagers at Great Dunham, near Dereham, saw work begin on their new �450,000 village hall.

There are already plans to stage a grand opening party which may be towards the end of this year.

As diggers moved around the site and the boundaries of the building were being staked-out, village amenities trustee Allen Wakeling described it as a 'red letter day'.

'It's been a long, hard haul and there were times along the way that we wondered if we would ever get there, so today is certainly a red letter day for the village,' said Mr Wakeling.

The hall, which will include a kitchen, toilets for disabled people, a main hall with a wooden sprung floor for dancing, and moveable staging, is being built on land next to the old hall by local builders TH Blyth & Son. Builder Jim Rice bought the old hall and site and will eventually redevelop the land with two three-bedroom affordable houses for local people. Mr Rice has allowed the hall to remain in use until the new one is ready.

The amenity committee trustees co-ordinated fundraising to buy the �40,000 land and made a successful National Lottery bid for �354,000 towards the total cost of the new building. There were a number of other grants from various organisations, including Breckland Council.

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'It looks like it will be a superb building and, because we no longer have a post office or pub, it will become a real focal point in the village,' said Mr Wakeling. He paid tribute to the work of project co-ordinator Keith Mitchell and treasurer Madeleine Farbrother who have been involved with the scheme every step of the way.