Million Lottery funding for Isle hall

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A Machars community is celeb­rating this week after hearing the village hall is getting a £1 million annex thanks to Lottery funding.

Isle Futures, a community-led charity based in the Isle of Whithorn, has been awarded £940,000 from the Investing in Communities Big Lottery fund to develop the community owned St Ninian’s Hall.

The project will involve the construction of an annex to the hall which will double the size, providing a cafe facility, retail outlet, exhibition area and new toilets. These facilities, with all ability access, will complement the existing hall which currently does not meet the requirements for its wide range of users. Through this development, Isle Futures will create a number of full-time jobs and seasonal part-time jobs in the busier periods.

Chairman of Isle Futures Ian Duncanson said: “This decision by the Big Lottery to award capital funding for the new build and revenue funding of £940,000 over the next five years for the St Ninian’s Hall development project is tremendous. It recognises that the development will benefit the whole community, particularly older and younger people who are at risk of social isolation. The development of the new facilities will create much-needed employment opportunities and will provide services for visitors, supporting the tourist industry – one of the most important businesses in the local area and wider region.”

Mid Galloway Councillor Graham Nicol added: “Obviously I’m delighted that this award has been given. It shows what a small, committed community can achieve and their aspirations for the future of the Isle of Whithorn are phenomenal. Other communities in D&G should be looking towards this as an example of what can be achieved by committed volunteer groups. We have always held up the Isle of Whithorn as an example of good practice as far as community involvement is concerned and they deserve all the help they can get.”

The Isle of Whithorn was the first community in the region to take control of its village hall from Dumfries and Galloway Council. Since undertaking responsibility for the hall five years ago, major improvements have taken place. In addition to refurbishment and decoration, much of which has been done by volunteers, a new heating system, theatre lighting and digital cinema equipment have been installed.

Planning for St Ninian’s Hall annex has been approved by Dumfries and Galloway Council. Details can be seen on www.isleofwhithorn.com. Construction is due to commence this summer with the opening scheduled in spring 2014.