A chapel in a village near Ripon is set to become a new community centre as it undergoes a £500,000 transformation.
A new village hall and community space will replace Grewelthorpe’s disused Methodist Chapel, where villagers will be able to meet for a coffee and a catch up in the volunteer-run café, which will retain many of its original Victorian features.
“A central part of our plans is to build a community café,” said Martin Glynn – a charity trustee for Grewelthorpe Village Hall and Community Centre Ltd which secured £440,000 of Big Lottery Funding for the project last year.
“It’s not just a community centre or a village hall. It’s a place for people in the community to come down to, to meet and thrive.
“It still quite early days but it’s a large project and everyone is excited about it.”
The charity not only received a funding boost for the project from the Big Lottery Fund – one of the first initiatives in Yorkshire to win cash from the Big Lottery.
The Methodist Church also donated around £70,000 to the new village hall and £24,421 of funding was secured from Yorventure through the Landfill Communities Fund, bringing the current cash pot total up to £534,421.
But Mr Glynn, 49, who has been volunteering for the Grewelthorpe Village Hall and Community Centre Ltd charity for two years, said the project still has some way to go.
“We are still applying for various funds at the moment,” he told the Gazette.
“We have held a sheep trial and coffee mornings to help boost funding.”
Mr Glynn added that a ceilidh dance fundraiser held at Masham town hall on March 24 was a “great success”.
Before building work could start in the former chapel, which was constructed in 1866, a clean-up operation was launched to clear out the interior with the help of 12 volunteers.
Building contractors from North Yorkshire, Randall Orchard Construction Ltd, of Richmond, are now responsible for the chapel’s construction, which began in earnest in February and will include a large project extension on the side of the building.
The new hall will also be complete with two storeys of toilets and kitchens. But it was the café initiative which really captured the imagination of Big Lottery Fund judges, which Mr Glynn said will not only provide a meeting place but an opportunity for local producers and businesses to sell their goods and for residents to receive training in a variety of skills to help them back into work.