Delighted residents of Westhampnett have celebrated the opening of their new village hall.
The £650,000 community facility was opened on Saturday by Susan, the Duchess of Richmond and Gordon, in front of a large number of villagers.
The building, in Hadrian Drive, has been provided by Westhampnett Parish Council. Its new chairman, Cllr Julie Freeman, told those present: “I understand the people of Westhampnett have wanted a hall for years.
“In fact, it has been important to many people including the late Charles Gordon-Lennox, the Duke of Richmond and Gordon.
“It, therefore, gives me great pleasure to welcome Susan, the Duchess of Richmond and Gordon, who has kindly agreed to open Westhampnett Community Hall today. So many people have played their part within the story of our hall’s creation.”
This included the architect, Jean Hardstaff, for her innovative and contemporary design, which was also utilitarian.
“The hall is filled with natural light, which will lift the spirits of all who spend time here, whether they are attending a social event, a business conference or joining classes to learn new skills.”
Parish council vice-chairman Cllr Claire McLeish said it had taken since the early years of this century to realise the dream of a hall for the village.
“When I was asked to join the parish council about 17 years ago, Henry Adams, the chairman, was passionate about creating a community for the expanding population. To encourage villagers, new and old, to get to know each other, we came up with a barn dance at the new school hall, a popular event which ran for several years.
“Henry was asked to visit the Duke of Richmond in 2008, a great friend of our parish, to discuss the possibility of a new village hall.
“Questionnaires were circulated to everyone in the village hall, designs were drawn up and possible sites were investigated.”
The hall was funded with payments made by developers of housing in the area on land donated as part of one of the developments. Its fittings cost a further £30,000 from similar payments.
The building can hold up to 120 people and is 15m long by 8m high. It has a professional quality kitchen and a reception area for four to six tables and chairs plus two outdoor seating areas.