THE community of Sandleheath rolled up their sleeves to start work transforming a former church into a new village hall.

Sandleheath Village Hall Charitable Incorporated Organisation has been set up to lease St Aldhelm’s from the church authorities and make the village hall proposal a reality, giving the village a place for activities.

Mike Richardson, a trustee of the charity that has been established to obtain and manage the village hall, said: “We are thrilled to have taken over St Aldhelm’s as it’s a much-loved, local landmark.

“Our village was once a brick-making centre and the building was constructed a century ago by Sandleheath people from Sandleheath bricks.

“Now, it’s sadly deteriorating and in need of renovation, so we’ve developed a detailed works plan that will not only make the building fit for our use, but also help to preserve it.”

While the hall is available for hire in its current state, the community has now started raising the £150,000 needed to refurbish and modernise it, and to put in disabled facilities.

The chairman of the trustees, Keith Bennett, added: “Sandleheath is a rural village with a notable elderly population and also with many young people, but we have no meeting place.

“Community activities in a refurbished village hall will help bring our village together, promote new friendships, and help address seclusion.”

The project has already captured the community spirit of the village with residents of all ages lending their support.

On Sunday (March 2) residents turned out for the second of a series of work parties to clear the area surrounding the village hall building, recover the paths and car park, remove undergrowth and tidy the frontage.

Mike said: “Our work day was a great team-building event which we all enjoyed. But fully realising our project will take time as we seek financial grants and raise funds locally.

“We’ll now be working hard to raise the necessary money that will make the hall what we want it to be; a community centre for us all, and the outcome will be hugely worthwhile.”

Back in April 2018, residents voted in favour of pushing forward with the village hall project.

To find out more about the Sandleheath village hall project, and to donate to the refurbishment appeal, visit