Whitsome Ark is typical of many Scottish Village Halls in that it is a real centre for community activities. There are some differences however. The Ark, as it is usually called, was opened in 2009 after several years of fund-raising by a group of local people, with some help from the Big Lottery Community Fund. It was designed from the outset to be multi-purpose, so it has a large meeting room which can double up as a sports hall for activities such as badminton or carpet bowls. It also houses the community shop and Post Office, the former being run by volunteers. Then there is a kitchen, with a counter divide from a small cafeteria and double doors to the foyer, so that the whole space can be opened up for smaller functions.
Being a modern, timber-frame build, as is common in Scotland, it was built to extremely high specifications for insulation and is heated by a ground source heat pump, with the hot water being augmented by solar panels. All this means that it is a light, warm and welcoming environment, whilst also being fairly economical to run.
The Ark is used to the full and there are very few times when there is not some kind of activity going on, from ballet lessons to badminton, Pilates to book clubs, as well as hosting weddings, children’s parties, the village Hogmanay celebrations, the Summer Fair and numerous meetings of different groups including the local farmers’ forum and the women’s institute. There are often people having a coffee and a chat in the cafeteria (generally this operates on an “honesty box” system), or enjoying tea and home-made cakes once a week. All profits go to the maintenance of the Ark and its grounds.
All this means that careful thought had to be given to the types and quantities of contract furniture that needed to be bought. Some events, such as the Summer Fair, are held both indoors and outside, so some plastic stacking chairs were needed for outdoor use. Wedding receptions meant that there was a call for different sizes of folding tables, as well as some padded banquet chairs. Musical evenings required a modular stage and bridge clubs, whist drives or bingo sessions find square card tables more useful. Obviously all of this contract furniture has to be stored, but still be easily accessible and storage space was, fortunately built into the Ark’s design.
Not all village halls and community centres are as fortunate with their facilities as the Whitsome Ark, but they are all multi-purpose and have similar requirements for suitable contract furniture. This is where a company like http://www.ningbo.co.uk/ can help, as they specialise in supplying exactly the kind of folding or stacking furniture that is needed. They pride themselves on their fast delivery service and can give expert advice on the space needed for storage of particular types and quantities of folding tables, chairs, modular staging and so on.
Next time you attend a function, sports activity or meeting at a village hall or community centre in Scotland, take a look around at the facilities provided and you will realise that careful planning is needed to make the hall succeed in all its different roles.