#VillageHallsWeek: Borwick & Priest Hutton Memorial Hall

In our final Village Halls Week spotlights, we hear from Spot On Promoter Keith and Borwick & Priest Hutton Memorial Hall, about how the Village Hall plays a part in every part of life…

Who are you and where’s your village hall? (How old is it? Any interesting facts to tell us?)
Borwick & Priest Hutton Memorial Hall (Keith Brady – Vice chairman)
The hall was originally built in 1922 as a memorial to the fallen in WW1. We still display the memorial plaque commemorating 6 young men from the two villages. The first building was actually an ex-army barrack hut from a training camp somewhere near Barrow. By  the 1980’s it was in a sad state of repair and consistently failing the annual checks that then prevailed in order to get the Entertainments Licence. In 1987 a “Building Sub-committee” was formed to consider a replacement village hall. Things moved fairly swiftly after a generous donation from a prominent local family kick-started the project. Work started in 1988 and we opened the new hall in September 1989. Total cost £80k, with generous help from Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council. It was a fantastic building when it opened and it is still fantastic.
What type of thing happens in your village hall?
The hall has a wide range of activities: in no particular order: badminton, bowls, pilates, disabled exercise sessions, art classes, arts society, gardening club, WI, junior tennis sessions, local church activities as well as private hires, parties, BBQ’s etc and of course regular Spot On events.
How long have you been involved with your village hall and how did you get involved?
I have been involved with the village hall since 1986, a couple of years after we moved to the village. I was on the Building sub-committee in 1987. It’s a bit of a life sentence but I enjoy getting involved and hopefully, making a difference.
Why do you think Village Halls are important?
The village hall is important not only for local activities but also as a gathering place for village events. Coincidentally this week the village hall is the venue for two funeral ‘teas’ for local people. It is ‘their’ building and adds to a sense of place and belonging. Events like “Spot On” performances also connect us to a wider world and brings talented acts for us to experience without having to travel to Manchester etc. The delight at seeing a world-class performer in the intimate environment of your own village hall, surrounded by friends and just a short walk from home is not to be surpassed. You can keep your Arenas, thank you very much.
Tell us a little bit about how Spot On events happens in your village hall… How long have you been hosting events? What sort of things do you like to host?
We started putting on “Spot On” events over 15 years ago and, mostly, we have done a couple every year since. We did have a break of a couple of years whilst I was busy digging holes in the ground for fibre-optic cables, however. Our favourite events are usually musical and we do find these the easiest to sell. We have done particularly well with Canadian bands over many years and in October 2018 we had a tremendous night with “Bon Debarras”, a band from Quebec. Everything they did was in French, but the audience just loved them. It was very special.
We don’t have anything special planned for Village Halls Week, which is actually, for us, dominated by funerals. That, in itself though, demonstrates that this is a successful community building where people are happy (this may not be the right word) to gather and celebrate the lives of their loved ones.
This season Borwick and Priest Hutton Memorial Hall continue their love affair with Canadian Music and Artists when they host Ryan Cook on Saturday 23rd March.
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