[H]er Royal Highness The Princess Royal officially opened Warcop Parish Hall on her visit to Cumbria today, Tuesday 21st March.
The Princess Royal was greeted by flag waving pupils from Warcop Church of England Primary School and shown round the new hall by Trustees Ray Bromby and Joyce Keetley.
Her Royal Highness was introduced to the team of Trustees and hall volunteers who are responsible for running the hall and arranging regular fundraising events. Ray Bromby, Chair of the Trustees, commented: “The opening of the Parish Hall by The Princess Royal will be a fitting tribute to all the people who have given their time so freely to help create this superb facility to help others.”
Representatives from the Big Lottery, Cumbria Community Foundation, Eden District Council and the Frieda Scott Trust were invited to attend in recognition of the financial support given towards the construction of the hall. Members of the Design and Construction Teams showed Her Royal Highness a display of photographs and plans – from the cutting of the first sod by longest serving Trustee Les Baines, to the finished building.
The Princess Royal was invited to look at photographs of the floods caused by Storm Desmond and meet local residents, whose homes and farms were affected. Community organisations and groups which regularly use the hall were also invited to attend this special occasion.
Her Royal Highness unveiled a magnificent slate plaque to commemorate the official opening. Darcy Brass and Charlie Dinsdale, both pupils at the local primary school presented The Princess Royal with a posy.
The new Hall provides a community resource at which services, events and facilities are being provided for all members of the Parish and beyond. The official opening is the culmination of 16 years of hard work by the Trustees, supporters and the community to replace two old Village Halls in Warcop and Sandford both in need of significant investment.
During the foot and mouth out-break in the area in 2001 community activities were cancelled and the old Village Halls like Warcop and Sandford, fell into decline.
Afterwards the activities held at the old halls never recovered and the Trustees still had to meet the annual costs of the utilities and insurance and so the maintenance of the buildings suffered and they became quite shabby and unattractive to hirers.
The old Hall at Warcop needed its timber ground floor replacing due to wet rot caused by repeated flooding from the adjacent silted up stream that runs through the village to connect with the River Eden. Warcop is slightly upstream from Appleby–in–Westmorland and when Appleby floods, Warcop already has.
Warcop and Sandford decided to pool resources to provide one purpose-built new Hall that would be warm, dry, accessible, multi-purpose, sited above the flood plain and located between the two communities.
This has been a real team effort by a very talented group of Trustees, and supporters, who even with the determined help of the community has taken over 16 years to determine what the villages needed, find and purchase the land, organise and carry out a long list of surveys to gain planning consent and to raise the £750,000.00 required. This was achieved through innumerable fund raising activities, selling assets and obtaining grants including £500,000.00 from the Big Lottery.