Fishbourne villagers set to celebrate new church and community hall

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CELEBRATIONS will take place this Friday in Fishbourne at a special party to mark the official opening of a fantastic new church and community hall, next to St Peter and St Mary Church.

The party begins at 7pm, with a chance for guests to enjoy a glass of wine and see the new hall.

Representatives of grant-giving bodies, donors and other supporters have all been invited to see the outcome of their efforts.

The project has replaced the village’s old church hall. Although it had served the community well, it did not meet modern expectations.

The hall was sold in 2014 and planning permission has been obtained for conversion into two new houses.

The new facility has a kitchen, toilets, a new church office, and a meeting hall, and complies with all the requirements for disabled access.

The Rector of St Peter and St Mary Church, the Reverend Canon Moira Wickens, said: “On behalf of the Parochial Church Council, I would also like to add an enormous heartfelt thanks for the amazing generosity, time, talents and commitment of so many which has enabled this long awaited hall to become a reality.

“We look forward to meeting many different groups and hope that they enjoy this super venue which will be an asset to the church and the community.

“God has certainly blessed our endeavours. It has been an amazing achievement, which began with one little step in faith.”

The new building makes use of green technologies, such as an air-source heat-pump, to keep bills down and reduce its carbon footprint.

Now it is complete, the hall is going to be used for a wide range of activities and events, including art, yoga and music classes, and church meetings and youth groups.

It is also available for hire during the day and evening for meetings, seminars and private parties.

Funding came from several sources. The church has raised an amazing £231,000 through events, donations and grants.

The Veolia Environmental Trust awarded £39,000 through the Landfill Communities Fund, Fishbourne Parish Council provided £23,000, the Bassil Shippam Trust £10,000 and West Sussex County Council £8,000.

Grants of £5,000 also came from Chichester Harbour Conservancy and the Allchurches Trust.

The kitchen has been fitted out thanks to a grant from Awards for All, and £2,800 has been received from the Sussex Community Foundation towards the costs of installing an induction hearing loop system. Other donors have preferred to remain anonymous.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) started developing the plans in reaction to the declining usefulness of the old hall and the growing need for improved facilities in the village, particularly for children, elderly people and those with disabilities.

The PCC consulted local people and community organisations and groups on the plans and the reaction was extremely favourable.

The hall’s design reflects people’s ideas identified during this process.