Armistice Day at the Memorial Hall

11.11.Church Hill March1

Sunday 11th November 2018: a date with real significance. Not only did Armistice Day fall on a Sunday this year, but it coincided with the centenary of the formal ending of World War 1. Because of this, a special service was organised for the Memorial Hall, the establishment of which was to remember all those local people who fell in battle on our behalf.

11.11.band2
Photo courtesy Mark Lythaby.

After the morning service at the Church of the Holy Jesus, the congregation filed out onto Church Road, where they were joined by many other people from the village. The Lydbrook Silver Band led the march down the hill and through the village to the hall, where all assembled in the narrow space permitted by the road. Made safe by the Parish Council, through Bruce Hogan who had arranged with the local police to have the road closed during the service.

11.11.Service1
The memorial had already been enhanced by the generous gift of a commemorative bench by Lydbrook Athletic Football Club; a silhouette of a WWI soldier, sponsored by the Parish Council, and placed above the hall entrance; and another WWI soldier silhouette placed within the railings, sponsored by the local Royal British Legion branch.

11.11.Service3
The Rev. Roger Minson led the religious aspect of the service with hymns and prayers.
Trevor Hek hosted the ceremony on behalf of the Royal British Legion, ensuring all went according to plan. He read out the names of those commemorated, giving details about their service. And, as the names were read, the staff and pupils of Lydbrook Primary School placed poppy crosses at the memorial, and wreaths were laid.
The Royal British Legion Standard was in the capable hands of Standard-bearer Tammie Johnstone.

11.11.Band1
Photo courtesy Mark Lythaby.

The Last Post was played, evoking that usual lump-in-the-throat response by many, by Robert Morgan, M.B.E., who also led and conducted the Lydbrook Silver Band, playing appropriate music and accompanying the hymns.

11.11.Service4
Rachael Mowatt, of the Women’s Institute, read John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’, evoking more memories and thoughts of the devastating effects of war.
The gathered crowd of attendees did the village proud; a good throng, representing all ages. Even one or two villagers in poor health managed to attend and all braved the sudden downpours without complaint. And, at least the sun emerged afterwards.

11.11.Service6
The sincere thanks of the Committee of Lydbrook Memorial Hall and Recreation Ground go to all who participated in, organised, and attended this centenary commemoration of the sacrifice of our brave local heroes.

11.11.memorial
Sorry to be late with this – I was collecting information. My photographs are a little limited, as I climbed the path opposite the hall to get an overall shot and was then trapped there for the duration. If anyone has additional pictures they’d be willing to share here, please use the ‘Contact’ tab to get in touch, and we can make arrangements. Thank you.

Lydbrook 100 – A Celebration of Village History.

 

legion 3

The Memorial Hall is hosting a celebratory exhibition of the history of Lydbrook right now!
There are information boards and displays from the Lydbrook Historical Society – I particularly enjoyed the one about the 17 pubs the village once housed! And there are some fascinating photographs of the place as it developed. Others showing the industrial heritage. Lots of pictures showing local people either in groups or going about their everyday business. Really interesting stuff.

legion 4
There’s a wide display by the Women’s Institute, giving details of their history and current activities. I loved the tea towel giving a list of humorous rules relating to the behaviour and conduct of the attendees.

legion 7
The local branch of the Royal British Legion has a great display showing the work they do and commemorating the local heroes (and heroines) of the two World Wars, and presenting various items of interest, including some facsimiles of old newspapers of the times.

legion 5

And there’s a pictorial history of Lydbrook Silver Band and its activities, including the building of the new practice room. Lots of pictures of band members past and present.

legion 6
And there’s coffee, tea and biscuits on offer.
It’s a great place to spend an hour or so out of this dreadful rain, either revisiting old haunts or finding out what happened in the past here in the village.
But better be quick! The display is open only until 16:00 today, 10th November. Get along there before you miss out!

World War 1 Centenary at the Memorial Hall

 

WW1 bench

To commemorate the centenary of the end of World War 1, things are happening at the Memorial Hall.

WW1 bench in situ
If you’ve passed the hall recently, you’ll have seen the splendid new commemorative bench next to the bay window. This was kindly donated by Lydbrook Athletic Football Club and installed by club members during the past few days. A small floral display enhances the bench, which is there for all to use as a place of rest and contemplation. The Committee wishes to express its sincere thanks for this wonderful addition to the hall’s memorial function.

WW1 bench name
You will also have noticed there’s a silhouette of a soldier now stationed above the double doors to the hall. This was sponsored by the Parish Council, with the Royal British Legion, and installed by members of the Committee. Again, our sincere thanks to the Parish Council and the Legion for this enhancement to the halls’ commemorative function.

WW1 soldier close

On Saturday, 10th November, everyone is invited to the exhibition/display ‘Lydbrook 100’, which takes place in the hall from 10:00 a.m.

WW1 soldier flag
And on Remembrance Sunday, 11th November, the hall will host a secular commemorative service. All are invited to attend. This starts at 10:40 a.m.

Was That a Hot Air Balloon?

01Balloon1-1
The old balloon inflated.

A few days ago, we had a request for an unusual event on the Recreation Ground. A man wanted to use the space to launch a hot air balloon. Could he? Well, we could see no reason why not, and the Football Club raised no objections to this use of the field.
It was an event entirely dependent on weather. In this case, whether the wind was blowing in the right direction at the time of the proposed launch. Because of this uncertainty, advertising it could easily have left hopeful witnesses disappointed instead of excited, so we said nothing.
Come the day, Thursday, Faith, our trusty booking manager, got word an hour or so before the team arrived. I’d been primed and went down there on spec, camera at the ready.
We saw the vehicle on the main road and were waiting at the gate to guide them in.
‘What a great site for a launch!’ was Thomas Lee’s initial reaction when he stepped out of his car and looked around.
There followed 30 minutes of intense technical activity as the basket was prepared, an older balloon unfolded by Allen Lutz and laid out on the turf. Trainee pilot, Rob Grzesiczek, operated the diesel driven fan to start inflation, and then with help from pilot Thomas, used hot air from the gas cylinders to complete the job.
That first inflation was only for show, so photographs could be taken to help sell the old balloon. It was quickly deflated and packed back in its bag.

01Balloon2-1
The new balloon is prepared

Next came the new balloon; smart blue nylon spread out over grass and slowly brought to fullness with the fan followed by hot fierce air. Gracefully, the fabric rounded out and floated up to vertical, and everything was ready.
To cheers from the small crowd of onlookers, attracted by the spectacle, buoyancy was briefly tested. And, released from its tether, the floating giant graced grey skies as it ascended over Lydbrook trees and made its way toward the River Severn and its destination, Cam, across the water. An interesting event.

01Balloon3-1
Up, up, and away!

We made no charge for this first launch, unaware whether the Recreation Ground would suit the purpose, and happy to use this attempt as a test. Now we know it can be done, we’re open to similar events in future.
So, if you’d like to launch your hot air balloon, or undertake any other activity that won’t damage our playing surface, please contact our booking manager, Faith Myers. You’ll find her details under the ‘Bookings’ tab. Or you can email us using the small form under the ‘Contact’ tab, but I must warn you I check that only once a week.
Cost? Well, we’re a committee, democratic and cooperative, so we’ll discuss that at our next monthly meeting, 6th November, and agree a fair price to pass on to prospective users.

By the way, Thomas thinks an item of equipment was inadvertently left behind: a length of rope, about 5 feet in length, with a metal karabiner attached at one end. If anyone has come across this, please let us know – probably easiest to contact Stuart Allison direct by email at stuartkallison(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank you.

An Update to the Hall’s History.

I’ve had the chance, due to recently received information, to correct an impression of neglect at the Hall prior to when the new committee formed in 2016. I’m happy to insert this piece into the history to set the record straight.

Bruce Hogan became involved in the Memorial Hall in 2001. Just before that, the old stone retaining wall between the recreation ground and the chapel had collapsed. The insurance company reluctantly paid for the gabion basket wall that’s now there, at one basket below its current level, but they increased our premium to a level that placed the Hall on the verge of going bust.

The committee at the time were ageing and few are still with us. Bruce immediately found affordable insurance.

At the time, the Hall was in a dreadful state of repair. The old steel-framed windows had rusted and many panes of glass were missing. They were boarded up from the inside and there was no natural daylight inside. The bay window had been converted into a cupboard for the playgroup.

The railings around the fire escape into the Health Centre car park were missing. The sub-floor ventilation had been blocked, as the air bricks were below the current pavement level and were served by wells blocked with debris. The sub-floor ventilation had also been compromised by the creation of the Athletic Club in what was once the coal cellar. The Club had no formal lease and paid rent at well below the market value initially. Bruce, however, was able to negotiate a lease with the Club. That lease was recently renewed, and the Club and the trustees continue a very healthy and good working relationship.

He managed to obtain a grant to replace the old windows with the current double-glazed PVC windows, which insulate much better against cold and noise. To minimise the noise effect on our immediate neighbours, the rear windows were made smaller. Bruce negotiated a discounted fee for scaffolding to enable walls to be built below the reduced height windows and erected the new walls himself as well as rendering the outside and plastering the inside.

The play group cupboard was removed, revealing dry rot in the bay window floor. Bruce gained funding to treat the area and he rebuilt the floor higher to improve sub-floor ventilation into the Hall itself. This is now provided by uPVC pipes he installed, visible by the bay window and war memorial.

He also installed the current railings around the rear fire escape, donating the scaffolding tubes.

Drainage from the front roof ran over the pavement, causing icing in the winter. To cure this, he created a soakaway by lifting paving slabs in front of the war memorial and removing a cubic metre of subsoil, filling the space with pea gravel and relaying the slabs.

Many other minor maintenance jobs were also done by Bruce, some as recently as last year. He’s not alone in this activity; a small core of committee stalwarts continue to do much of the maintenance work on the hall as volunteers; something we’d welcome outside help for, if anyone’s willing and able.

As treasurer, Bruce produced balanced, audited accounts, sensibly refusing to deal with petty cash, so that every penny passed through our bank accounts. This habit continues today, as a secure method of dealing with money under the rules and suggested practises of the Charity Commission.

This post is a statement of thanks to Bruce and all others involved, and an attempt to set the record straight so we can move forward in our hopes of improving facilities even further, and as a way of making public some of the dedicated work that goes on behind the scenes, often invisible to users of the Hall and the Recreation Ground. Recently, for instance, committee members, along with volunteers including some Lydbrook Players, have redecorated the interior of the hall, sanded the floor, repainted the badminton court and varnished the floor. The guttering was repaired following damage by the heavy snow, and the bay window has now been made waterproof. A new flagpole has been donated and erected, and outside lights are now fitted. We’re hoping to complete the exterior decoration over the next few months. And the recreation ground is due to be made safer and more attractive when old brambles and weeds are treated and removed. So, lots still going on.

We’re always in need of practical help, volunteer labour, both skilled and unskilled, the generosity of funding organisations, and of individuals. These facilities have served the community well for many decades. If they’re to continue in that valuable role, we need more local people to lend a hand. It doesn’t involve a great deal of time, just a few hours here and there. So, if you’re interested in doing something to help the community in which you live, please pop along to our next meeting, in the hall, at 19:00 on Tuesday, 7th August, and let us know what you can offer. Thank you. If you can’t attend, please contact us with any offers via the ‘Contact’ tab at the top of the website.

This is the first of what I envisage may be a short series of posts correcting false impressions from the past or filling in blanks in the history of the charity and its work. I invite anyone with any knowledge of, or records about, the Memorial Hall and/or the Recreation Ground, to contact me as above. We can then arrange to meet and/or exchange any documents and information. Thank you.

Working to Improve the Hall

Anthony dan on bay
Dan Jacobs (foreground) and Anthony Brooke of Elco Property Maintenance applying waterproofing to the roof of the Hall’s bay window.

We like to keep everyone in the picture about what’s happening in the Memorial Hall and on the Recreation Ground.

At present, the bay window on the hall, which has been suffering water leaks for some time, is undergoing repair and renovation work. Rain has been penetrating via cracks in the fabric and this is now being sealed to make the roof watertight. We were eager to get this done during the hot dry spell, to ensure we could seal in dryness, after the heat has removed all internal damp from the structure.

The floor of the hall has been sanded and will be revarnished, with a new Badminton Court laid down. This is due to happen in the next few days. Please be patient while this work is undertaken by volunteers. Thank you.

You’ll all be aware that the Recreation Ground is also undergoing changes. We’ve organised the removal of weeds and brambles on the slope along the Church Road side of the field. Once that’s been cleared (we’re using a contractor to apply safe weedkillers so the brambles can be removed) we’ll endeavour to keep it clear. It would be really wonderful if we could have volunteers to perform a regular strim along those slopes once the brambles have been cleared. Any good-hearted folk with the necessary equipment, time and energy would be welcomed by the Committee. Please contact us using the form on the Contacts page. If you know a Committee member, please feel free to contact them personally to offer any help. Thank you.

The wall, currently under partial demolition, running beside the pavement up the slope from the main road to the car park entrance, is still in the process of removal. This will allow both motorists and pedestrians to enter and leave the car park in more safety, and people will be able to cross the road with better views of oncoming traffic in both directions. This work is being done at no cost to the Trust, and is therefore subject to some delays, as the machinery involved is offered for hire by the company. Clearly, during the good weather, the business involved has to take advantage of paying opportunities. So, please bear with us. The job will be completed, but it will take time.

Annual General Meeting

AGM full

On Sunday, 10th June 2018, Chair of the Trustees, Graham Williams, presented the annual report for the Lydbrook Memorial Hall and Recreation Ground committee in the hall. Keith Newman, Treasurer, also reported on the year’s spending and income and the current state of the charity’s finances. Faith Myers, Secretary, was present to record the meeting and ensure all went as required.

Many of the current trustees were in attendance, as well as a few members of the local community interested in our activities and facilities. That aspect of the meeting was a little disappointing. Perhaps the good weather kept many away in their gardens. It would have been encouraging to have more interest by local people, but most have busy lives.

AGM panel

Below is the text of the Chair’s address for those who weren’t able to attend, and anyone else who’s interested in what goes on in their local village hall and the recreation ground.

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT JUNE 10th, 2018

Good afternoon and a warm welcome to the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Lydbrook Memorial Hall and Recreation ground charity.

The charity finds itself in a generally positive situation with more users, a higher rate of use of the facilities and improvements to the Hall which are ongoing to make the Memorial Hall and the Recreation ground more amenable for the community.

The Forest New Life Church no longer use the Hall for Sunday morning services.  We wish them well and thank them for their support during their tenure here.  However, they are continuing with their week of entertainment for children at the beginning of the summer holidays.

We have had the professional Pantaloons touring group, yoga and Zumba classes, a singing evening, a bicycle maintenance class and the Lydbrook school talent show recently.  These users are of course on top of the regular users the Lydbrook Players, the WI, the badminton club and our tenants the Lydbrook Athletic & football club.  We still have time slots available for new activities so get your thinking caps on and if you have some sensible suggestions as to how we can utilise the Hall even more then the Committee is always willing to listen to new ideas.

It must become a priority to raise more funds so that we can at least apply for grant matched funding.  The Memorial Hall is now in its nineties and is structurally sound but continually needs maintenance.  Recently we have had to repair the guttering after it was damaged during the first snow of the winter and having had work done to the bay window we find we have to spend money again as it continues to leak. Both items have highlighted the need to try and get it right first time.  This is not  easy when you are running the charity on a small budget.

As a Committee we need to ensure that work is carried out to a good standard and anything disturbed/removed is made good so that the work is done satisfactorily and will last for years without extra unexpected work.

So, what has the Committee been doing for you over the past 12 months?

The second stage of the heating has been installed in the toilets and upstairs meeting rooms.  Thanks to the Parish Council for their grant towards this.  We plan  to replace all the toilet units, install a more efficient water system and upgrade the disabled toilet to bring it up-to the current required standard.  The Hall and entrance lobby are in the process of being re-decorated and with the new lighting the memorial plaque is illuminated again – and you can see the front door to get in!

We have material quotes to renovate the front of the stage, but more analysis needs to be done to understand how best to carry out the work.   The Hall floor will be sanded and varnished this summer so that the badminton club players will be able to see the tram lines again.

Our biggest challenge this year has been the Recreation ground.  The Committees agreed intention is still to remove the stone walls either side of the car park entrance and replace them with metal railings to improve the visibility for vehicles exiting the carpark.  We have a limited budget and, therefore we were, and still  rely on the co-operation of local business to provide the machinery and carry out the work.  We apologise for this and ask for your patience and understanding while we continue to complete the work. We have contacted Gloucestershire County Council to see if we can lower the kerb on the car park entrance, but we do not know if this will be approved.

After reviewing the legal requirements and carrying out a risk assessment on the carpark area we are instigating parking permits.  There is now a dog poo bin at the front entrance and we are having to look at installing fencing to prevent the wild boar getting onto the recreation ground.

The other item to note is the proposed children’s’ playground.  The previously raised money is in a separate account and is ring-fenced, but we would need to raise a considerable amount of money to build and install such a playground and fund the insurance that we would need on an annual basis.  We do not have anything like the funds to make this happen so this will remain a pipe dream for the foreseeable future unless we find new ways of funding it.  Any suggestions and ideas are always welcome.

General maintenance continues to be carried out on both the Hall and the recreation ground.  Apart from the annual bank cutting our intention this year is to get rid of the brambles, any dead trees and dangerous or damaged metal work.

We hope to put on a family fun day on the August bank holiday Saturday, the intention being to raise money for the charity through stalls, games and a raffle.

We now have our first web-site, lydbrookmemhall.co.uk, so we can now provide up-to date information on current and upcoming events together with the monthly Committee minutes and accounts.  Copies will also be posted on the front door for those who do not have internet access.

At 11am on November 11th, 2018 the nation will mark the centenary of the guns falling silent at the end of World War One.  The service of remembrance will take place at Lydbrook Parish Church of the Holy Jesus where everyone will be welcome.  The parade and laying of wreaths will then take place at the Memorial Hall together with the observance of the two-minute silence at 11am.

Finally, I would like to thank the outgoing committee for asking me to be Chairman and for their support throughout the past twelve months which have been quite busy and secondly, on behalf of the committee I would like to thank all our benefactors for their financial support and to all of you for coming this afternoon.

#

The Treasurer’s summary is available under the ‘Minutes and Accounts’ tab, above, where you’ll also find the minutes of all meetings. We’re intending to post the minutes on the doors of the Hall this year, too.

#

As you’ll note, we’re intending to work on the Recreation ground toward the end of June, after the annual cutting of the banks on Church Road. We’re hoping to clear the brambles, nettles and the old trees, all the old metalwork, and anything else that needs attention. Later, we intend to apply for a grant to plant new trees on the bank.

If you’re handy with a spade, secateurs, or any other garden tools, or just willing to lend a hand shifting the weeds and rubbish to a central point for collection, please come along. We’d welcome all the help we can get. Announcements of dates and times will appear here and on the Facebooks groups for the village. Thank you.