Built in 1939 and is part of village life

Chinnor Village Hall was part of the creation of village halls during the interwar years and their concept was formed by a number of issues. 

The land in which the halls stand were bequeathed to the village by Norman Benton for the benefit of the local residents and area.  A copy of Norman Benton's Last Will and Testament can be viewed by permission of the Chinnor Village Hall Committee.  Email: cvh2003@hotmail.com 

One was to provide an alternative to the controlled and sponsored social life in relation to the Reading Room and the allotment movement by the local clergy and gentry in keeping with the reforming zeal of the Victorian era and the desire to keep residents out of the local pubs and to provide them with improving occupation and activities.

Pandemic 2020

Lockdown of the Chinnor Village Hall Coronavirus 2020

Having listened to the Prime Ministers statement to the Nation on Monday 23rd March advising that the country was in Lockdown until further notice my feelings were of “what do we do about Chinnor Village Hall” It’s a public building, and an extremely busy one. I was shocked and overwhelmed that with no Chairman to guide us, as Vice Chairman I would need to step up to the challenge and just pray the remaining Committee would not only support me but work as a team as we worked through the necessary steps to ensure our village hall was in a safe and secure manner as we and the rest of the country worked our way through the weeks of lockdown.

I had to get my thoughts together and a glass of wine helped, as I soon realised that this was no “shut the door” keep the key task. This had to be done in a methodical way to ensure we were following all the available information and guidelines relating to village halls. There would be impact on our insurance cover, fire, lift and alarm inspections, as well as notifying the Charity Commission, who I had never spoken to before and felt rather in awe of them.  Plus we had announced our AGM open to the public, now this could not go ahead.  We were hoping as we were “rudderless” to vote a new Chairman in at the AGM who would not only support us but pick up the reins of closing down the hall. Our annual accounts also need approving and sent off to the Charity Commission.

This was only the tip of the iceberg. Thank goodness for technology. Out came the laptop and a checklist created as to everything we needed to do in order of priority. The number one was to immediately gather together the rest of the committee so as to allocate tasks to complete our lockdown.  As we could not meet physically we met on-line via “Whatsapp” and planned our schedule.

We needed to contact our regular hirers, ad hoc bookers and our own suppliers regarding the position.  All of our classes were suspended with immediate effect, and ad hoc bookings postponed until later in the year, hopefully.

In order to cut down on our outgoings, as we no longer had an income, all our own suppliers were notified, and their services suspended until further notice.

The hall was then thoroughly inspected, boilers shut down and the building made secure.  The car park barrier was put back in place to ward off unwarranted use.  We followed all the useful guidelines sent out for village halls particularly regarding our insurance provider, Police, our fire inspection provider, Parish Council and of course our neighbours. Our time was well used and by the week-end breathed a sigh of relief that we had accomplished a large task in such a short time.

We then realised we needed a “lockdown plan” going forward.  All very well locking up but checks would need to be made on a regular basis, we did not want to find we had a leak and the building flooded or anything else come to that. Meeting on-line we decided that the building needed to be checked weekly by our Health & Safety administrator and any problems immediately reported so that appropriate and safe action could take place.

Our committee enjoyed our on-line meetings and we moved our regular face to face monthly meetings to “Whatsapp”.  Unfortunately our usual minute taker could not enter into the fun, remarked he was a dinosaur. As Vice Chairman the notes were taken by me and then knocked into shape and sent on to him for distribution along with other documents prior to our next on-line meeting.

The weeks rolled on, Easter came and went, as did VE Day, half term and on into the summer.  June, rumours running round regarding releasing more measures of the lockdown including some for village halls.  On looking through all our regulars so many of them are exercise classes and gyms and indoor sporting classes still not permitted. Time to touch base with our regulars and get a view on how they think they would be able to run their sessions.  Several had already been in touch with their appropriate “Governing Body” for advice, others sent their own ideas to us. 

A “coming out of lockdown” plan was put together, plus, three on-way systems which would be in place for Chinnor Village Hall, so as to safe guard those returning. All would need to sign and agree to our new policy / procedure.  We would prepare the hall for reopening including fitting hand sanitizers in appropriate places.

Are we ready? Hopefully, who knows, but we will do everything possible to safe guard our village hall so that we can move into the future having lived through a pandemic

Zena Baker – Vice Chairman Chinnor Village Hall June 2020