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Church is also village hall after £500,000 renovation
VILLAGERS in Stadhampton have completed a five-year project to adapt their church into a village hall.
They spent £500,000 pulling out wooden pews at St John the Baptish Church and replacing them with chairs as well as building a new kitchen and toilets.
The project also upgraded heating, lighting and insulation in a bid to cut fuel bills and attract more community groups.
Yesterday, as Henley MP John Howell opened the facility, he said: “This has been a great project which has demonstrated how, when a community gets behind an idea, others listen and things really can happen.
“I wish the community every success as they begin to use it to develop groups and activities that will let people get together and develop friendships within the village.”
Work to convert the centuries-old parish church in The Green started on March 1 and finished in late August. Stadhampton has not had a village hall sinces the 1960s. Now a lunch club for the elderly and a parent and toddler group will open in the coming weeks and a youth club next year.
Villager Ann Stead, who helped fundraising efforts, said “We are delighted that we now have a revitalised church which we will be able to use particularly for the benefit of disadvantaged groups but also for the wider community.
“While the support of our funders has been critical, we have had terrific support from businesses and individuals who have put in time, effort and money into completing the building.”
Bill Service, SODC cabinet member for leisure, grants and community safety, said: “This will be an invaluable asset to the village for many years to come.
“I hope there will soon be lots of activities running for the benefit of all parts of the community.”
The Bishop of Dorchester, the Rev Colin Fletcher, said: “The idea of adapting the church to provide first class community facilities is a win for us all. I hope it will be the blueprint for more similar projects in the future in other villages so that our churches can continue to serve the needs of the communities in the best way possible.
“That is exactly what the Church of England is here for."
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