Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Our Village Hall .. 40 years on & why I'm prepared to shave my head

I thought I ought to explain why I am willing to shave my head  to raise funds for our village hall...... the following articles go some way to explain, hopefully...

This is a piece that was published in our Parish Magazine, "Towards", earlier this year about our hall.

40 Years On.....

Somerby Memorial Hall celebrates one of those milestone birthdays this year... there's no denying her age as the year 1975 is carved in stone on the front wall!
We are planning to celebrate later in the year & if anyone can help us with memories of when the hall opened we would be really grateful.

Most of us who have got to 40 know that we aren't quite the same as when we were 20.. and that is certainly true of the hall.
In recent years, most of the proceeds from fundraising by the committee and generous donations by the Somerby Vaudevillians & the Fete have gone towards buying equipment for use in the hall & community.
The time has now come to spend some money on the fabric of the building –
  1. the roof has developed a couple of leaks which we have had patched, but it really needs more than patching.
  2. The rear wall needs re-pointing
  3. External & Internal decoration is overdue
  4. Kitchen requires updating
  5. Roof requires additional insulation.

The hall is a community building for use by all who live in the village & surrounding area. It is a charity, run by volunteers. There is no trust fund nor any other independent means to finance it. The hall depends upon the community for its survival from the monies it receives from hiring and fundraising events.
The work required is going to cost several thousand pounds and while it may be possible to apply for some grants, these are much harder to come by now. All of which, means that the hall is going to need the support of the village more than ever in order to raise the funds needed.


whether you want to attend a group that meets there, you want to have your child's birthday party or your own celebration be it birthday, wedding & yes even funeral teas. In addition, the stage, lighting, tables , crockery & cutlery can all be hired for use both in the hall and off site.

Hopefully, with your help & support, we will raise the funds needed and the hall, with it's face “ lifted” will be fit & ready for the next 40 years to play its role along with the pub, shop, school and Doctor's surgery as an integral part in the life of both the village and parish.

Information on fundraising events & regular groups who meet in the hall can be found
on the Noticeboard at the front of the hall ,
or our facebook page

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Our chair, Lynne, came up with the following idea for fundraising

Somerby memorial hall

40for 40
40 groups to raise a minimum of £40
In order to raise some of the funds needed for the building works the hall requires we are looking for 40 groups of friends, family or businesses to raise a minimum of £40

How you raise the funds is up to you, a sponsored event or just all put some money in to reach the minimum £40.00
We have set up a just giving account for the hall 
or for those of you who aren't happy using computers, we can supply sponsorship forms
The campaign is running from June to September 2015
Upon completion of the campaign, the successful groups will receive a certificate and their names will be added to a Roll of Honour to be displayed in the Hall .
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I've lived in this village since 2000, for the first couple of years, I kept my head down, hardly went out, went to the odd village event but never stayed long. I think it was the day my house flooded I started to get to know people and found that they were very welcoming & their support over the flooding was brilliant.
A couple of years on and I was asked if I would take up a position on the village hall committee.. I did so albeit reluctantly. I found I enjoyed the monthly meetings but once again stayed in the background... it was the start of a slippery slope I guess. The more you become committed to a community the more important all the constituent parts become.
When the village GP was going to retire, the village got together to save the surgery, a fight which we won. When the Post office was under threat, people once again joined forces to try and save it, not so successfully this time although we still receive an outreach service twice a week. Since I have lived here one of the two pubs has closed & been converted to housing. We do still have the shop, surgery, pub, school and of course the hall but unless we are careful, it will be, oh so easy to lose more of these amenities over the next few years.
Too many of us keep our heads down, avoid eye contact, don't attend village events or even visit the pub!  However, by doing so, in effect,  we kill the community we wished to be part of. I'm not saying move to an area and sign up for every group and committee going, although most of these groups and committees are voluntary and appreciate help.Just try saying "hello", look folk in the eye, try popping to the pub for a swift half. I am a big believer in the saying " give to receive" - if you make the effort to give a little of yourself then you will get so much back from others.
This village is my home, very much so and I am proud to be a part of it. If it takes me shaving my head to raise money for the hall then I am more than prepared to make a fool of myself to do it. After all, it will grow back in a few weeks & hopefully the hall will remain a community asset long after I am gone.

so please, if you can donate, visit
or text SHVD57 to 70070 give £3 minimum

Thank you, the more I raise, the less I will mind wearing my woolly hat in midsummer :-)

Monday, 6 April 2015

Filigree - the power of an image

This morning a photograph was posted on @twitter. It was posted by @dougchinnery as part of a series of photographs he is presently working on. Filigree can be seen here.

I looked as I usually do when photos are posted and all of a sudden I remembered.....

I think it must have been 2001, Pete, my best friend, hugger, confidante, "other half","kick up the backside", who died last August, went over to Boston, in the U.S. to visit his sister, Ann.
I think one of his nieces was getting married, I can't recall the details now & they aren't relevant to this blog anyway.

He was away for over a fortnight and when he came back, he brought me lots of presents, scented candles, jewellery, all sorts of little bits, the stuff you buy as pressies. Well, the stuff a lot of folk would buy as pressies but Pete was never one for presents or cards. Among them, was an oak leaf skeleton, covered in gold. Doug's photo brought it to mind..along with all the other gifts Pete brought me back from that trip & there I was, once again, smiling and crying at the same time. 

It played on my mind over breakfast & in the end, I dug out my jewellery box, dusted it off and opened the lid. Inside, among my bits of "tat", I found my dream catcher earrings, another present from the same holiday and in the bottom tray, wrapped carefully in its tissue paper, my gold oak leaf. I knew he loved me but never realised at the time, how much of a gesture it was for him to "treat" me. I do still have all of them, the candles were never lit & are still scented, the jewellery, safe in my trinket box, worth little in monetary terms but priceless to me.

As I commented to Doug at the time, grief comes & hits you at the oddest moments.

It is now 9 months since Pete died & later this month is the anniversary of his terminal diagnosis. Most days, I don't cry. Often I smile at a memory, there are always smiles when Pete comes to mind. Today, it seems to have hit more of a nerve than usual and I had to find a good cd to play in the car on the way to work so I could have a good sing & a cry.
Thank you to the Dixie Chicks, "Wide Open Spaces"  & one song in particular "I'll take care of you" J.D Souther.

Grief is a funny creature and it affects us all differently. This is far worse than anything I've known before but then he wasn't like anyone I've known before. Even though I'm crying whilst typing (not easy), I still feel so lucky our paths crossed that day in 1985 & I shall always thank him for for the love, laughter & friends he brought to my life & for introducing me to the East Midlands which is now, very much, my home.

I know I say it often but I so, so mean it, tell those you love that you do, give them a hug, hold their hand. Be there for each other now, not tomorrow or next week as now is the only certainty for any of us

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A visit to Margate Part I

A couple of weeks ago, I returned to my native Kent to see my parents for a few days over the weekend of  Mothering Sunday. Although I live in Leicestershire these days, I do try to keep in touch with what happens in Thanet and had noticed a couple of exhibitions on that weekend that sounded of interest. Having not been to Margate for several years and having read tweets and blogs "bigging up" the area, I was optimistic of seeing a positive change.

Mum said she would accompany me and as the first exhibition was at Bernie's Chocolate Bar, I thought we could treat ourselves to a warming hot chocolate. The seafront was closed to traffic, due to the Moto X event being held on the main sands that weekend but I remembered the back roads and we parked with unexpected ease at the College Road car park. The weather was grey and grim and the breeze cutting but we had still expected that the place would be packed out with people visiting the Moto X. Perhaps they came later in the day. 

This was the scene that greeted us as we came out of the car park
Not particularly inspiring. However we made our way along Lombard and Market Street to the seafront and found the entrance to Bernie's Chocolate Bar, more by luck and not from the wonderful signs(there weren't any - just a couple of fliers in frames). The place was crowded but few were looking at the photos or even drinking chocolate! The exhibition, which was, I think, supposed to be taking the mickey out of Thanet, missed it's mark, well with me, certainly. Looking around the premises, it looked "tired", there was nowhere to sit, and no one who appeared to be in charge of serving or greeting visitors and so we left. I was disappointed, if this was the new improved Margate, then it was probably worse than when I had lived there 20 years ago. We wandered up the lower High St., as far as Henry's, the electrical & camera retailer, much reduced from the shop of days gone by. The High St. still looks sadly unloved but with occasional glimmers of hope - a new hotel,The Sands, created where Joe Lyons used to be, .

Back to the Market Place to mooch among the galleries and cafes, hoping to feel the "creative vibe". Please note, it is clearly best not to want to be creative before 11am and certainly not in the early part of the week! I made sure we wandered around every corner and looked at every gallery - I'm sorry but a few photographs poorly displayed isn't my idea of a gallery. We went into The Margate Gallery as I was interested to see the glass art exhibition that was running. We were barely greeted with a mumble and certainly no word of farewell.. perhaps you only get that if you spend money but there was nothing that really appealed.

Returning to the car, Mum patiently let me take her up to Cliftonville to visit the Viking Gallery, once we were able to find it- more by luck once  again. If you would like to visit, it is in Cliftonville Avenue, opposite the sign for the snooker club.Once again, only open a few days a week and definitely not on Mondays. What is it with Monday? 

Bear in mind my parents both grew up in Margate & Cliftonville so it's not like they or I don't know the area!

This is a newly opened gallery space and has much potential but needs presentation and focus. There was an exhibition by several local photographers on a theme of Focus on Kent. As I write, the details are still on their website, which hasn't been updated. Looking closely at  the works, several of which were priced at a few hundred pounds,one had two scuff marks and another had broken glass in the frame. Certainly no inducement to invest.

Apart from the 15-20 photos on display, one table, two card stands and a chair there was nothing. There were no mounted prints or cards for sale by the artists showing their work, just the works on the wall.

The gentleman who was hosting that day engaged us in conversation about the hopes for this new enterprise. He mentioned another gallery in the Market Place area of Margate that he had been involved with previously. This, it seems is a theme, galleries open, run a few months and then disappear when they clearly don't pay. 

The Viking Gallery could be a really interesting place to visit, sadly, it looks as though they ran out of money before they opened - there is no furniture, no means to make use of the space to hang work at different angles or on display stands. Our host was clearly enthusiastic, it seems a shame that he hasn't the support or a enough of a "product" to market.

I appreciate that the Viking Gallery is in a building of some historic interest (a former Turkish Baths) but it is off of the main shopping area & needs much better signage to attract visitors than the 'A' board we barely spotted. When I was a child, Cliftonville was the "posh" part of Margate, these days she looks more like an aged hooker desperately wearing too much makeup and the wrong clothes in order to try and attract business. Many shops are boarded up or closing down and the pubs don't look the sort you would want to visit. In fact the brightest shop was the recently opened Polish supermarket, a sign of the changing population in this area of Kent. There are still businesses running that have "always" been there and I applaud their guts and determination, although perhaps it's a case of they have no option other than to stay open. New businesses certainly have an uphill battle on their hands.

We returned home, retracing our steps around the back of Margate to avoid the roadblock. I hope the Moto X was a success but it certainly wasn't the sort of day I'd like to be on the seafront. I was disappointed. Margate is missing a trick, the idea is good, the application not so good. I can see the logic for several businesses of the same type setting up in the same area but look at that area, the pavements are stained with gum and bird droppings, the buildings often have paint chipping off them.. there is litter and rubbish at every turn.

It looks scruffy, unloved, unkempt.

Now, it may be officially the responsibility of Thanet District Council to keep it clean but unless and even if they are nagged, I doubt they will respond. It would be good if those running the businesses, particularly, in the Market Place took "ownership" and responsibility for the area themselves. Hire steam cleaners, spend a weekend (or even a Monday) with mops, bucket and brooms and clean the place up? Make it look like somewhere people want to spend time! Fill a few flower baskets to decorate the area. If everyone took the time to sweep the street & pavement outside their shop front every morning  & wash the paintwork & windows regularly, the place would look so much better.You might even shame the Council into helping or tidying their own buildings up too! "People power" is pretty amazing once you get going & it needn't cost a fortune.

Anything that is worth well doing takes a lot of effort and many dark days before it becomes a success.

People aren't going to flock to the galleries just because Turner Contemporary is on the seafront. At the moment, if they do come to visit, then I doubt they will return, the product is poorly displayed, often poorly marketed and I believe from some of the info I have read the fees to mount exhibitions are top dollar for 3rd rate surroundings. Have you never heard of starting lowly and building up? This is Market Place, Margate, NOT Bond Street, London. 

Among the artistic businesses, I noted that a couple of the Margate solicitor's were present in the area.. perhaps they ought to be asked to help. After all, I don't think I've ever come across a poor solicitor...

I wish Margate good luck, no doubt it will be a while until I am back in the area and it would be lovely to feel that someone actually cared about the place on the next visit.

On my way back to Leicestershire, I went to visit a gallery in Brighton, Brighton Photography .Gallery owners of Margate & Cliftonville, please take note, this was a welcoming space with plenty of product on offer at a range of prices to suit all pockets, plenty of options to alter the space to display work and its surroundings were clean and tidy. Oh & it is open SEVEN days a week! I know which one I will definitely return to .