Spring 2020 update

Sadly since the lockdown work on the new St Mary’s Cabin has stopped. However, we are delighted to report that the roof was finished by then, as well as the external walls, doors and windows. So the building is secure and watertight – and looks great!

Before the lockdown we had a ‘topping out’ ceremony with the last tile of the porch. We tucked a copy of our church community prayer under the last tile and cemented it in. We tied a laurel branch to a rafter to represent perseverance and thanksgiving for the resources of the natural world. Then we celebrated with cake (naturally!) and left some beer for the Coulson’s team to enjoy at the end of the day.

We are excited to see how our new cabin is shaping up – and the lockdown is showing us how much we value places to meet up! It will be a sweet day when it’s finished.

Thanks again to our funding partners who include Amey, The FCC Communities Fund, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, The Rural Cambridgeshire Fund and The Allchurches trust and MANY generous individuals and groups.

The ‘cabin at St Mary’s’ project

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 and support the use of outdoor space by the village as well as being a community facility in its own right.

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 received planning permission for the new, simplified design in September. 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. It will provide space for an exercise class of 16 people, or for at least 48 people to sit round tables. 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.

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 the cabin at St Mary’s 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 building 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.

In just under four years since the launch of our appeal, by 31st December 2018, we had received £133,364 in gifts, small grants and through fundraising events. In addition a further £50,000 has been pledged. We are amazed and so grateful for the generosity and hard work of very many people, both within the Hardwick community and beyond. In 2019 we focused on grant applications for the remainder of the capital costs, and on plans to cover equipping and initial start-up costs.  Towards the end of 2019, with some significant grants awarded, we reached the £350k necessary to be able to sign the contract with our builder, Coulsons. On 24 January 2020 we broke the ground with prayers (and spades) and building work started the following day.

The St Mary’s cabin development team at the ‘breaking the ground’ ceremony

First grant in 2018

We are one step nearer to our Community Hall! We are delighted to announce that we have received a grant of £5250 from the Allchurches Trust. We are so grateful for this encouragement and hope it won’t be too long before we see a hall that will help us and the village flourish for many years to come. We are already dreaming about what might take place: art groups, activities for families and children, music, jigsaw clubs, much coffee drinking, exercise classes and so much more. On the practical front, visitors to the site will note some shrub clearance before the bird nesting season starts and the newt survey is due any day now.