LEADER to aid Strichen and Lonmay halls

COMMUNITY halls in Strichen and Lonmay are set to be refurbished thanks to the latest round of grants from the Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER programme.

Improvement works to the Ritchie Hall and Lonmay community hall will be carried out along with seven other projects after funding totalling nearly £350,000 was announced.

Strichen Gala Committee has been awarded £85,532 for improvements to the Ritchie Hall, an important community facility within the Buchan area.

The construction of an extension to the existing building will allow changing facilities for sports and football to be separate from the facilities for hall user groups, ensuring that the hall meets the wider needs of the community.

The kitchen area and equipment will be upgraded to ensure that it is fit for purpose and the decor and lighting will be modernised to make the facility more inviting for income generating hires such as weddings and private functions.

Commenting on the award, Esslemont Watt, the gala committee’s fabric manager, said: “The Strichen Gala Committee, managers of the Ritchie Hall are delighted in having secured a sizeable grant from LEADER in Round 15 of awards.

“The LEADER funding will go quite some way to completing the funding of our refurbishment project for the 34-years-old community hall.

“This financial boost should now allow the project to commence in the Spring of 2013.”

Meanwhile, Lonmay Public Hall Trust has been awarded £10,455 in order to carry out a series of modest modernisation improvements at the public hall, to make it a more attractive and accessible facility for the local community.

The hall is no longer fit for purpose and feedback from user groups has indicated that a modernisation programme is necessary to improve the hall to the standards required for community activities.

Proposed works include the installation of disabled toilet facilities, access ramps to the front doors, new double glazing, replacement of the heating system, new flooring and lightweight folding table and chairs. The existing kitchen will also be upgraded to enable users to provide catering within the hall.

Trust secretary and treasurer, Lindsay Elphinstone, said: “We are extremely pleased to have been successful in our application for LEADER funding.

“The award of this grant will allow the trust to carry out important work to Lonmay public hall, the outcome of which will be a more accessible, energy-efficient and modern community facility.

“The trust is grateful to LEADER for its support and for recognising the merit of the project and the benefits it will bring to the community.”

LEADER is a rural development funding programme financed by the European Commission and the Scottish Government and administered locally by the Rural Aberdeenshire Local Action Group (LAG).

As well as grants to Strichen and Lonmay, beneficiaries also included plans for a heritage centre at Forgue Kirk, a skatepark in Aboyne and an arts project in Huntly.

Welcoming the recent awards, LAG chair, Belinda Miller, said: “I am delighted that Aberdeenshire LEADER is supporting a wide range of rural community projects across Aberdeenshire.

“Some of the projects are also being supported by Aberdeenshire Council, which is most welcome as this will enable these projects to proceeds at an early opportunity.

“The successful Round 15 applications are helping to deliver Aberdeenshire LEADER’s strategic priorities of revitalising communities and a progressive rural economy as well as aligning with Aberdeenshire Community Planning priorities.”