Cornhill villagers unite to sing in the rain as hub opens

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Villagers were singing in the rain at the weekend to celebrate the conversion of a former school into a community hub in north Northumberland.

Cornhill First School closed in July 2012 because of a lack of children in the village to fill its classrooms.

Cornhill Community Action was then established as a charity to convert the former school into a resource for the village.

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The building has now been converted into six commercial units, five of which are already occupied by small businesses.

The official unveiling of the new centre.The official unveiling of the new centre.
The official unveiling of the new centre.

An official opening of the centre was staged on Sunday, July 23, which ran alongside the village summer fair in the grounds.

The school’s former headteacher Julie Grainger and the Rev Rob Kelsey were invited along to perform the ribbon-cutting.

And even the pouring rain could not dampen spirits.

An organiser said: “Folk in Cornhill on Tweed are made of strong stuff; at 10am on Sunday the rain was falling steadily but undeterred, we decided to carry on with the arrangements for our summer fair.

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Singing in the rain.Singing in the rain.
Singing in the rain.

“The forecast promised the rain would stop at noon. The team from Cornhill Village Shop had fixed their large marquee the evening before but soon they were joined by others.

“Borders Search and Rescue vehicle arrived followed swiftly by Coldstream Fire Brigade’s fire engine. Gazebos and balloons all went up around the newly refurbished Cornhill on Tweed Centre, formerly Cornhill First School. All the new businesses in the units in the venture were open and ready for visitors.

“Sadly, the rain didn’t stop at noon but to everyone’s amazement and delight people started to arrive – lots of people. Soon the centre and the stalls were buzzing and there was a queue for the BBQ and the Pimm’s stalls, both ably managed by the village hall committee.”

The official opening of the centre took place in the hall. Rob Kelsey, priest in charge of St. Helen’s Cornhill, was MC. He introduced Julie Grainger, former headteacher at the school, the parish councillors, including Elspeth Gilliland, chair, the trustees of the charity managing the centre, and two residents who have lived in the village for a long time and who remember the old school.

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Linskill Cornhill Choirs.Linskill Cornhill Choirs.
Linskill Cornhill Choirs.

The organiser added: “Rob gave special thanks to a list of people and then Julie gave a short, very appropriate speech and unveiled the new plaque.

“Although the weather was still poor, the two choirs decided to perform outside in the rain. Despite their sheets of music turning to mush, they managed very well. Cornhill Community Choir sang first, followed by Linskill Community Choir from North Shields. They then joined forces and sang together, much appreciated by everyone.

“By now, the rain had eased and at last the dog show could take place on the lower field. It had been a long wait for both owners and dogs but everyone remained cheerful and lots of prizes were awarded.

“Despite the weather, it was a very successful day and demonstrated the strong spirit of community in the area, the generosity of the locals and a willingness to support new ventures.”