2020 has been a year like no other for all of us. Pant Memorial Hall began the year with a very busy booking calendar, and plans for lots of improvements to the building and our facilities.
We end it in a very different world – but we were still able to make many of the improvements. Here’s a quick look back at what we’ve achieved in 2020.
What is new at the hall?
When it became clear that bookings would cease, the committee decided to stop all unnecessary expenditure from reserves. The only things that went ahead were items already ordered.
Fortunately we also had two successful grant applications to fund two big projects. As a result, quite a lot has changed at the hall since the end of 2019:
- low-energy LED lighting almost everywhere, chosen to provide good task lighting and a warm ‘feel’. This includes modern light panels in the main room (replacing the failing fluorescents) and stylish track lights in the entrance hall for a warm welcome.
- no-touch lighting sensors for the toilets, store rooms and external lights. Less to touch and less to leave on by mistake!
- low energy but efficient hand driers in all three toilets
- 40 padded vinyl covered chairs, replacing 40 of our serviceable but old chairs
- a bluetooth speaker system for all hirers to use.
How has the hall been managed during the closure?
The last physical committee meeting was at the AGM in March – socially distanced of course. Since then four of the trustees have formed a ‘reopening subcomittee’, meeting weekly via Zoom to monitor the situation, take care of the hall and work towards reopening. This team generated a reopening plan for approval by the full committee.
The ‘reopening committee’ are now the ‘covid-19 committee’, meeting fortnightly via zoom to continue managing the hall. All the usual safety checks and repairs have been achieved, as well as the improvements detailed above. We are just a little bit proud of what we have managed to do despite the circumstances.
Is the hall financially secure? So many charities and facilities have been badly affected.
The good news is that yes, the hall finances are secure. We have a robust financial policy that includes ring-fenced reserves for the unexpected. A chunk of these reserves are earmarked in case income from bookings had to stop for any reason. Now we know that reason…
The hall was closed to all hirers from March 23rd to September 14th, and again during November. When we did reopen, many of our previous hirers were unable to return as their events could not be held under the restrictions. We are still unable to accept bookings for family events or parties, which is a great sadness for a community venue.
Although we have no staff and the committee are all unpaid volunteers, many of our operating costs continued even with the hall shut down and no bookings income.
As well as our reserves, we are very grateful for the two government grants given to us. These will cover our operating costs for some time to come. We continue prudent management, to ensure that the hall will still be there when normality returns.
Is the hall open at the moment?
Yes. At present the hall is operating on what could be called ‘tickover’. We are a covid-secure venue, following enormous efforts by the committee to set up safe systems. While restrictions continue our facilities are limited, but some events are possible with planning and risk assessment, plus adherence to our procedures Read all about what we’ve done and how to book the hall on this page., which is kept up to date as restrictions changed.
We are delighted to help with possible bookings – we know how much it means to our hirers and attendees to be able to do something, however restricted. We are also pleased to make the hall available for anything relating to the covid-19 control or vaccination efforts.
As we enter the 99th year since the founding of the hall, normal times are still some way off. Like everyone else, we place our hope in the vaccine and in the efforts everyone is making to stay safe in the meantime. The hall is part of that ‘stay safe’. With love to all our past, present and future hirers, attendees, and the people of Pant.
The committee of Pant Memorial Hall wish everyone a happy Christmas, a healthy and peaceful new year, and better times for us all.