The people at St Mary’s are committed to helping build and sustain a flourishing community in Hardwick. And with that theme in mind, we are making progress on the Community Hall project as currently the provision of good quality, accessible and flexible meeting space in the village is lacking.

Just to remind you, the land behind the church was given to us by the Chivers family with the intention of building a hall in mind. This building will be a welcoming space for everyone in the village and available for use by individuals, clubs and societies at all times apart from Sunday mornings when we have Sunday Club during, and coffee after, the church service. We have taken care to ensure that we will still have our lovely pond, woodland and grassed area and this outdoor space will be directly accessed from the hall via patio doors. We hope that the building will support community use of the church building itself, support the use of outdoor space by the village as well as being a community facility in its own right.

Recently, we have partnered with the local building firm, Coulson’s, who have worked with other local schools and churches. As part of their community scheme they have helped us finalise an affordable design, and will then do the building work as part of their project to support the local area. We already have planning permission for our original L-shaped design, and an application has gone in for the new, simplified design. We expect to receive permission in July. The design includes a hall with floor area 55 m2: the vaulted ceiling will reflect the design of the church, and patio doors will lead out onto the garden area and campfire circle. There will also be a small meeting room, a fully equipped kitchen and toilet facilities. It will, of course, be fully accessible and has been designed to be as eco-friendly as possible.

In just over three years since the launch of our appeal, as of 30th May 2018 we have received £114,000 in gifts, small grants and through fundraising events. In addition a further £60,000 has been pledged. We are amazed and so grateful for the generosity and hard work of very many people, both within the local community and beyond. We are now actively preparing grant funding applications for the remainder of the capital costs, and are preparing plans to cover equipping and initial start-up costs. If you can help, we would be delighted to hear from you!

We envisage that the hall at St Mary’s will complement the proposed larger community building which is likely to be situated somewhere on the perimeter of the recreation ground at the north end of the village in three or four years’ time. In particular the woodland setting will give St Mary’s Hall a different ambience. We know that the expanding Southern portion of the village already feels remote and isolated from the village centre. We hope a community space by the church will be an ideal space not only for the growing community in the South but also a great meeting spot for whole village.