A CHURCH leader has called on a north Northumberland community to rally round to support a well-used village venue.
The Ferguson Hall in Belford needs help from villagers to meet running costs in the face of rising energy and insurance bills.
The hall is owned and managed by Erskine URC and the church is looking for around £3,000 a year to ensure it is not relying on the church’s congregation to prop it up.
Rev David Herbert said: “We have always enjoyed the Ferguson Hall being used by the whole community.
“It’s not just a church resource, it belongs to the community. It was built by the community for the community.
“It’s used by a wide variety of groups and age groups. We would love to see that continuing.
“It’s a case of getting it all on a sustainable footing and we would like to invite people to think about whether they would like to help us do that.”
But Mr Herbert was clear that the hall is not in dire straits yet.
“We need to be careful that we don’t just suddenly find that it can’t continue,” he said.
“We want to be pro-active now to stop it becoming a crisis. I think a lot of people in the village would be disappointed if it closed.
“The actual hall’s in fine fettle. It’s got great acoustics and it’s well-serviced – there’s a fully accessible toilet and kitchen facilities.
“It doesn’t need work other than ongoing maintenance.
“It’s more about helping to pay for the heating, lighting and stewarding of the hall.
“There are other spaces in the village but they are very varied and they cater to different groups in different ways.”
One way the hall is hoping to fund itself is inviting residents to become a Friend of the Ferguson Hall at a cost of £20 a year or £100 for lifetime membership.
Mr Herbert said that the Friends could have a meeting each year to see how the hall has been made to work for people in the community.
And he suggested that people may be able to help in other ways – with their time, skills or ideas – showing once again the spirit of ‘Belfordian generosity’.
“There are fantastic folk in the village who usually rally round and I hope people are as generous as they have been in other circumstances,” said Mr Herbert.
User groups, community representatives and residents are all invited to a Ferguson Hall users’ meeting on Wednesday, February 22, at 7pm in the hall.