Building for the future in Poringland
The Revd Robert Parsonage, Rector, writes: “The Rector and two Churchwardens of All Saints Church Poringland, by virtue of their office, are the trustees of Poringland Village Hall with overall responsibility for its management.
The building is nearly 100 years old, in poor condition and increasingly a challenge to maintain. But despite this, it continues to be heavily used by the community, including various church groups.
“In 2009 the heating system has to be completely replaced, and at the time, we were anxious about further major costs being incurred, on what is always a limited church budget.
“We prayerfully reflected on what our options were moving forward, especially in the light of a newly built community hall in Poringland being available from 2007. However, as trustees, we concluded it was right to explore a replacement building.
“This vision was supported by All Saints PCC, following an away day which was centred on prayer. Since then, some very generous, individual donations have allowed us to move forward to verify and consolidate this vision.
“We commissioned an architect to design a replacement for Poringland Village Hall. However, a second architect was eventually approached as we were not fully satisfied with the initial plans. In 2011, as part of this process, we negotiated the purchase of an adjacent strip of land to allow scope to offer more car-parking spaces.
“Our vision was to offer the same facilities as presently used by the community, but to make them fit for the 21st century, as a multiusage, multi-purpose facility.
“The first of our public consultations took place in 2012 and continued into 2013. We took a stand at the 2013 bi-annual village fête, and invited the hundreds of village folk present to examine and comment on our plans. As a result, these plans were refined, clarified and any concerns raised were addressed.
“The revised drawings were then submitted for planning approval in 2013, but had to be withdrawn as we were required to submit more detailed wildlife reports. This delayed things for a further six months until, in October 2014, South Norfolk District Council, with the full backing of our local District Councillor, gave their unanimous approval to the plans for the development of a new All Saints Centre, Poringland.
“We met Geoff Freeman, the Parish Funding Support Officer, in November 2014 at a Funding and Legacy workshop in Attleborough. Geoff’s infectious and enthusiastic outlook is matched equally by his informed approach to funding and a track record of success.
“In Poringland we always felt confident that we could somehow raise the capital required (current estimates put the amount well over a million pounds, but we still await the formal report), though we weren’t quite sure how we should go about it. Meeting Geoff was a case of meeting exactly the right person, at exactly the right time.
“Since then a group of us from Poringland have visited Scratby Parish Hall, including the Chair of Poringland Parish Council, the architect, the churchwardens and I, as well as several others. Geoff showed us around the recently built and similar facility.
“We were very impressed with the new build, and also with Geoff’s grasp and level of detail, as he informed us of the sorts of questions we now needed to be asking. We are currently working alongside Geoff to develop our Business Plan, to establish a Project Management Group, and to move forward in the whole area of funding capital projects.
“We know there is still some way to go, but we look forward to working with Geoff for the successful completion of the All Saints Centre Poringland.
“Just to mention in closing: I am very much aware that I am not called to be a fund-raiser; neither am I called to be a builder of new buildings. But the vision God has given us in Poringland is exactly the place He wants each of us to be – and my overall calling is to follow God wherever that might lead. It’s only then that we learn to more fully depend on Him.”
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