A small North Lakes community’s mammoth fundraising effort has seen an incredible £380,000 mustered to breathe new life into a well-used but tired “hub building.”
The Borrowdale Institute will throw open its doors again next month and a week of celebration has been organised to applaud all those who have helped in a highly-successful project to upgrade the village hall at the heart of the valley, which has only 300 residents.
It comes after three years of concentrated fundraising following the appointment and election in 2018 of six new trustees from the church, The Borrowdale Story — an exhibition at Grange Methodist Church — farmers, the village school, hospitality businesses and the parish council.
Works have involved creating an open plan bar in the community room and improving the main kitchen which is well decorated and furnished.
The main hall, which is used by school children and for larger events, has capacity for over 100 and a marquee can be fitted and lighting and blackout are available.
Toilets are adjacent to the community room and hall and there is also a lift to get to The Herdwick Suite. This room honours the farmers and they have generously subscribed to its fixtures and furnishings.
Facilities are adjacent to the main room and there is a small kitchen. It is ideal for day conferences, seminars and course work. There is a large balcony off the room with views north to Castle Crag and beyond.
Malcolm Stonestreet, chairman of the Borrowdale Institute trustees, said the building has 100 years of education, celebration and expectation under its belt but had become tired and not fit for purpose.
“Over the last three years we worked in three groups — fundraising, building and future programme,” said Mr Stonestreet.
“The fundraisers have been given a moving target — first £250,000, then £300,000, then £350,000 and finally £380,000 — a target achieved last month.”
Mr Stonestreet said that village halls do not look or feel anything like they did 20 years ago.
“They are more sophisticated, more adaptable and available for a large range of activities,” said Mr Stonestreet.
“Our kitchens at home are very different to those our mothers worked in; pubs have changed beyond recognition. So have village halls and we have tried to be in front of the game.”
The trustees will have a private dinner on June 21 followed by three major events — an invitation ‘look round’ for 100 donors and community leaders on June 23 at which Cumbria’s High Sheriff David Beeby will speak; a Borrowdale coffee morning between 10am and noon on June 24 which is open to all and a service of thanksgiving at St Andrew’s Parish Church, Stonethwaite, followed by a Borrowdale brunch at the Institute on June 27.
The bookings website is currently dealing with six enquiries to hold their wedding party at the institute and the vicar, the Rev Charles Hope is picking up many requests for weddings at St Andrew’s.
Throughout the open week Borrowdale chef David Jackson will be providing Cumbrian food in style.