String of bad luck pulls Ardfern folk together

Craignish Village Hall nanager Tiziana Tedoldi

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It started when floorboards mysteriously began to buckle, but now trustees of Craignish Village Hall are faced with a bill in excess of £10,000.

The close-knit community of Ardfern and the Craignish peninsula has, however, rallied round to support the popular community facility.

The distorted floorboards turned out to be a result of the underfloor heating not working, which was because the ground source heat pump had failed at some point in the summer of 2019. Reliant on gas, the hall was faced with an estimated £2,700 bill rather than the normal £900 cost.

Then there was the broken pump. After 14 years, it had reached the end of its life and heating engineers recommended a new pump at an estimated cost of £10,000.

Half of the cost will be met by hall funds, but the intention is to take out an interest-free loan for the remaining 50 per cent.

The hall costs around £19,000 per year and is run as a not-for-profit organisation, but since the loss of the local pre-fives unit and £6,000 of annual rent a number of years back it has been running at a loss.

Jo Gregory, an upholsterer who is one of the people who rents space in the hall to help support its upkeep.

Craignish Village Hall chairperson Matt Walsh kept the people of the peninsula appraised of the hall’s run of bad luck in a letter after the new year, telling them: ‘Lots of initiatives, like the Big Ass Garage Sale, have helped and we are going to be working very hard not to get into a crisis.’

Hall manager Tiziana Tedoldi explained: ‘The hall is doing really well and is used very well by locals, but it has to be busy just to cover our costs.

‘We want to keep it affordable, so we have to work harder as a committee.’

The hall also provides space for local small businesses to try out new ideas while contributing to hall revenue.

‘We’ve been overwhelmed by the response,’ said Tiziana. ‘People have been offering to volunteer and we’ve had a number of contributions.’

And the first of a series of planned fundraisers – a ceilidh on February 22 – received a big boost when local band All About the Cake offered their services for free.

A few weeks later, Glasgow band Samson Sounds will return to Ardfern for a concert – and in May look out for a VE Day celebration, complete with swing band.

‘We have a fabulous committee,’ said Matt. ‘And the community has always supported us, so thanks to everyone.’