Community Centre and Sports Hall

Registered Charity – Number 521506

Background

People often wonder why there is such a large community centre and sports hall in such a relatively small village. For that we must give thanks to the foresight and hard work of villagers and fund raisers in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, many of whom are mentioned below.

The village was steadily growing in size, many of the farms were sold and new housing estates being erected. In the early 1970’s there were still no facilities in the village for group gatherings. The visiting doctor held his surgery in the front room of a house in Main Street; the baby clinic was held in the Bricklayers Arms; the W.I. met in the village school, the Senior Citizens held their Christmas Party at the Working Mens’ Club (now known as the The Thornton) and there was no church hall.

The Parish Council owned the recreation ground between Main Street and the reservoir, but there was no proper access from Main Street until the owner of a house in Main Street agreed to sell part of their garden. This together with support from the Parish Council for a village hall, gave rise in 1969,to a group of villagers led by the Vicar Rev. John Seymour forming a committee comprising of Mr. W.D. Welsh (headmaster of Thornton school), Mr Len Chaplin, Mrs Gwen Warner, Mr A. Spencer and Mrs Iris Gleeson. They began fund raising in earnest and visiting other local village halls for inspiration. By 1973 the main hall was built on land leased from the Parish Council for a ‘peppercorn’ rent, an agreement that still exists today. The hall was officially opened on 8th September 1973 by Colonel R.A. St George Martin, OBE, JP, chairman of the Leicestershire Rural Community Council.

The addition of a separate sports hall, was completed in 1988 and officially opened on 10th September by Lieutenant Colonel John Heggs of the Leicestershire Rural Community Council

There is more information about the first 21 years (1973 – 1994) of Thornton Community Centre in a booklet kept in the hall.

Email thorntonvillage@aol.com for more information.

Facilities

The main hall is ideal for all manner of events from private parties to concerts and is home to the weekday morning Playgroup and the Markfield and Thornton theatre group; the stage making it a perfect venue for local amateur dramatic productions. The large grassed area behind the hall, overlooking the reservoir and National Forest, forms a beautiful backdrop for wedding receptions, birthday parties, team building exercises, outdoor events and so much more. There is easy access to Thornton reservoir along the footpath down the hill through the childrens play area. All open land owned by the Parish Council.

There is plenty of space throughout the two halls for craft fairs, art exhibitions, fashion shows, quiz nights. Each hall although entirely separate has it own kitchen and toilet facilities and adjoin each other through a narrow hallway for easy access.

Main hall capacity – 200 standing and 104 seated.

Dimensions – 49ft x 23ft (1490cm x 700cm)

The meeting room is at the side of the main hall, where there is access from two doors with a third door into the Centre’s main kitchen. There are two serving hatches from the kitchen, one into the main hall and one into the meeting room.

Meeting room capacity – Standing 62 – seated 31

Dimensions – 26ft x 13ft (780cm x 400cm)

The sports hall is used regularly by various groups and is totally separate from the main hall with its own entrance. There is also a toilet and a small kitchen by the sports hall, and a large storeroom. Early in 2017 the trustees purchased new sports equipment and in June 2017 started up an informal sports club.  There are three table tennis tables and equipment plus a badminton court and equipment available.  New players are always welcome.   See more info or contact Paul Muller  – thorntonmondaysports@gmail.com.

Sports hall capacity – 200 standing and 104 seated.

Dimensions – 48ft x 24ft (1450cm x 720cm)

Updates

In May 2017 the kitchen to the main hall was refurbished. The kitchen is equipped with fridge, freezer, microwave, dishwasher, hot water boiler, oven, hob and new crockery and cutlery. New flooring was laid in the meeting room, and other improvements included the addition of a bookcase for book and jigsaw puzzle swaps. In December 2021 five large canvases of scenes around the village were added to the meeting room to create a less austere setting.

Community centre meeting room – copyright gillatphotography

Copies of these canvases can be ordered in a variety of sizes with profits to the Friends of St Peter’s towards the upkeep of the village church. Contact :- Gill Tapping email thorntonvillage@aol.com

Despite the various Covid ‘lockdowns’ work has continued at the centre with two new notice boards fronting on to the main road, new signs above both hall doors with the new village logo, a post box, keysafe, motion detecting lighting at both hall doors, new felting and repairs to part of the flat roof and most noticeably major work to tame the shrubs along both sides of the driveway and a ‘haircut’ for the bushes around the car park.

copyright – gillatphotography

More recently in November 2021, the centre was given a ‘planter’ by the parish council and two benches have been purchased that sit neatly either side of it to form a lovely seating area by the main door. One bench was purchased with monies donated by 7 year old Katie Smith, who did a sponsored walk and raised £500 for the centre, the other bench was purchased with monies donated by Forterra Brickworks of Desford.

copyright – gillatphotography

Forterra donated £2,500 to the centre in September 2021 and together with the bench the trustees have purchased a projector and screen.

Trustees Liz Mitchell, Paul Muller and Mary Gibson with the new projector – copyright gillatphotography

Other facilities available at the hall are a portable p.a. system, projector, and a large screen above the stage, plus free Wi FI, making the centre an ideal location for conferences, talks etc.

There is a large car park available at the centre.

After months of closure due to the Covid ‘lockdowns’ the hall is beginning to get back to normal with groups returning, and during November and December 2021 the annual Craft fair, and the seniors Christmas party were held at the hall, followed by the December theatre group’s Murder Mystery night which was a sell out.

The Trustees of the centre are committed to keeping the hall in the best possible state of repair, and are constantly striving to update, the now, 50 year old facilities.  Projects being discussed are the refurbishment of the toilets, more repairs to the roof, re painting throughout, new curtains, extending the car park and creating a decking area off the hall patio doors. New trustees would be most welcome to share the load of looking after this wonderful village facility.

To assist with these much needed works we are looking for financial aid in the form of grants and donations. Or ‘hands on’ help from anyone with spare time.

Fund raising is vital to keep the hall running, could you help? Do you have any ideas? Email thorntonvillage@aol.com

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