Chair Report AGM September 2013
This has been another very busy, exciting and challenging year in the hall. I would express my thanks to all of our volunteers who continue to do such tremendous work keeping the whole place going in such good fettle.
As I reported last year we had made application to the Big Lottery Community Spaces Fund. This application was very time and nerve consuming but ultimately successful. As a result of this grant we were able to refurbish the ladies toilets, create a new office space, install double glazed windows in the whole building and replace the main double doors of the hall. Hopefully we will see a reduction in our astronomic gas bills this winter and a warmer environment. This funding has also enabled us to install fire doors and an improved fire alarm system. These will be completed in the next month or so. The funding has also enabled us to replace the corridor flooring.
Following the break-ins last year, for which there was a successful prosecution, we were able to use the balance of Leader funding to install CCTV cameras and an intercom system on the doors to alert caretakers of someone’s presence.
All of these improvements have occurred whilst we continued to operate the hall, so my thanks to all of the contractors for working with us and all of the hall users for keeping the faith.
You will also have noticed that we have just about completed painting the outside of the building. The funding for this came from EDC Civic Pride Fund which allowed us to purchase paint. I would express my gratitude to Dermot Kavanagh and Keith Brown who gave up their two weekends to do the bulk of the work. I think you will agree that the place looks amazing.
Hopefully all of this work will pay off as people enjoy a safer, more pleasant and attractive building.

Activity levels continue to increase with a range of classes, groups and events taking place.
There is certainly a trend emerging of exercise and healthy living: There are now some forms of exercise 5 days per week and we continue to host The Food Co-op on a Saturday. This latter has gone from strength to strength and is now a well-established feature of life in the village, as well as generating revenue for the hall.
In the last year we have had 33 parties (looking back on last year’s report the number is the same so we are at least holding our own there). I am delighted that a number of children are coming back for a second time for their parties. This tells me that we must be doing something right!.
We have continued to run the cinema .However there were some changes this year as a result of experience. It costs about £140.00 per film to run the cinema. It also requires at least three people to make it all happen. We found that running films in the evening for an adult audience showed a very poor return, indeed the final film we showed had one customer. So a decision was taken to abandon the adult movies for the time being. We also found that uptake of children’s film over the summer was poor. So this year we are running the cinema over the autumn and winter. Even at its best we are reliant on the tuck shop, hot-dogs and popcorn to break even. However the decision to run a cinema was never one based of economics alone but to provide a service and we do have a very loyal, if small, cadre of supporters who come along to every movie.
As intimated last year we provided the pantomime for all the children in the two primary schools and nursery. We were fortunate to have some funded support from Highland Spring last year. The pantomime (Aladdin) is booked for this year . So far the trust will be funding this from its own resources but I am hopeful we can raise some sponsorship.
The Big Lunch took place in June. Whilst not as well attended as the previous year, I think it was enjoyed by all and certainly was more manageable for us.
Following the announcement of a by-election as a result of the death of Charles Kennedy, who was a staunch supporter of the hall and a sad loss, we decided to hold a hustings event in the hall to allow everyone the opportunity to meet and hear from candidates. This seemed to be well received by those attending and hopefully we can repeat the experience when circumstances are right.
We had a group of young film makers use the hall to record scenes for a crowd-funded film they are making for a festival. We also more recently had a commercial film unit using the hall as a base whilst they made a commercial for television. So, something different and exciting!
In response to the unfortunate arson attack on the Free Church premises we offered the hall as an alternative venue for services until the Church is reinstated. As a result we have been delighted to host the congregation for most of this year. Hopefully the Church will be back in operation before the end of this year.
We have been fortunate in having sizeable donations to the trust this year: we had a donation from Magner’s which we used to run a very profitable raffle, we await a donation from Aviva Charitable Fund and we also had a transfer of residual funds from Campsie Civic Trust. These provided the trust with a sizeable cash injection, which has been very welcome in continuing our work of upgrading and improving the facility. My thanks to all of the trustees who negotiated and secured these funds on our behalf.
The Trust has also continued to host Forward Training this year. As well as creating work experience for our young folk , this has also been a source of revenue and, as importantly, has meant that the hall has been open almost every day of the year. We hope this partnership can continue as it is clearly a valuable asset to our community.
We hosted the presentation of awards for Positive Experiences; a youth focused initiative, aimed at employability. This was a great success and helped to showcase the hall, even if we did have a panic as our projector broke down a few days before hand. We hope to welcome this group back in the winter.
There are a number of events and organisations which are becoming a regular feature of life in the hall: Riverside Nursery have both their graduation ceremony and also Christmas show with us; Scottish Karnataka Sangha are also regular visitors now ,as are the Campsie Accordion And Fiddle club ceilidhs. My thanks to all of them for their support and we hope to develop these, and other long-term relationships in the future.
We were also delighted to welcome Lennoxtown Primary School who used the hall for rehearsals and presentation of their Christmas Concert. This went very well and the plan is to repeat the experience this year.
This year we have again supported charitable events in the hall. These have generated some £7K for good causes.
The trust continues with its own fundraising initiatives: Christmas Fair, Spring Fair, Car Boot Sale, Band night. I would thank everyone who made these possible and all those who came.
We continue to host a range of community group meetings. I won’t list them all as the list is extensive but would encourage you all to visit our website calendar to see who uses us.
At the beginning of the life of this trust we set out to make this hall a central part of community life once again. We also aimed to improve the environment and make it a comfortable and welcoming place for all. I think I can claim that we have achieved these and more. However the work goes on

I would remind everyone that the hall continues to function as a result of the commitment of a group of volunteers, who are now 3+ years down the line. We continue to see one or two new very welcome additions but we really need some more help. This is becoming more acute as the hall just gets busier.

I would close by thanking all of those people who have used the hall in the last year for your support and hope you continue to use it. And finally can I reiterate my gratitude to those volunteers who turn up every week to open the hall, keep everyone safe, clean, and fundraise so that this can continue to be a central part of our community life.

Thomas Starrs