Buy a brick to give Debden Village Hall build a kick start

Left to right: Emma Broom, sales manager at Ridgeons, April Gardner, Debden Hall fundraiser, Andy Pe

Left to right: Emma Broom, sales manager at Ridgeons, April Gardner, Debden Hall fundraiser, Andy Peach, Ridgeons customer service, Stewart Luck, chairman of Debden Hall working group, Amelia Amour Searl Trust, Henry Blackie, chairman of Searl Trust, Mike Fairchild, Debden Hall commitee - Credit: Archant

Residents are being given the chance to “own” a piece of their new village hall.

Organisers of one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in Debden have launched a Buy-a-Brick fundraising scheme so that for £1 residents can buy their very own small but vital part of the new building.

The new fundraising scheme comes after the latest donation of £23,800 from the Debden-based Searle Trust.

This gift means that the villagers now have more than half their £590,000 target for the new building.

In the past two years, they have raised £332,546 and have £257,454 still to go. The first 1,000 bricks will be donated by builders’ merchants Ridgeons, after the Reporter contacted the firm. About 8,000 bricks will be needed for the outer walls.

After several unsuccessful attempts to build a new village hall in Debden over the past 15 years, the latest project was launched in 2013 by the New Village Hall Group, with the support of Debden Parish Council.

This month, the group has also launched The Debden 100 Club, a scheme where 100 or more people will be asked to donate a minimum of £10 a month by direct debit for the next two years. This would generate a minimum amount of £25,000 towards funding for the hall.

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This is the latest initiative in a massive fundraising effort which has brought grants from commercial organisations and charities that support community initiatives, while village groups have organised money-raising events.

The largest grant came from the Ministry of Defence under its Community Covenant scheme designed to bring civilian and military communities closer together.

The funding bid, strongly supported by 33 and 101 Engineer Regiments EOD based at Carver Barracks, added £236,400 to the fund.

The new hall, to include a pre-school and a village shop, will be built close to the existing building, which is beyond economic repair and will be demolished once its replacement is complete.

Appropriately, The Searle Trust has its own roots in bricks and mortar. In 1956, Emily Searle made a will leaving her bungalow in Debden, to her daughter Florence to live in until her death and then to go “to the Parish Church of St Mary and All Saints Debden, never to be sold, and to be let at 25 shillings per week or sixty five pounds per annum to good church people only”.

Florence lived in the house until she died in 2004. A High Court order in 2005 then allowed the property to be sold with the majority of the proceeds going to the Parochial Church Council. The council decided to establish a trust, to be known as The Searle Trust, for the benefit of the whole parish of Debden. The trust is administered by Essex Community Foundation.

Stephanie Watson, chair of Debden Hall Trustees, said: “We would like to thank the Searle Trust for their continued support. Our fund raising efforts this year have been more successful than ever before. We have tried for a very long time to achieve our goal of building a new village hall, which we see as essential for the village, and we believe that we are close to our objective thanks to the ground swell of support we have and thanks also to the generosity of key funders such as The Searle Trust.

“We are grateful for all the support we have received and people’s patience in what has been and is a long and on-going campaign.”

To help Debden build its new village hall go to