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13th May 2011

SEATON: Working hard to give new life to Seaton Town Hall

By Paul Crompton

 IT’S been a tough few months in the life of Seaton’s Voice Community Interest Company (CIC) but the dedicated members have vowed to forge ahead with plans to revitalise the town hall.

The group of five dedicated woman have said it’s been a struggle to keep plans on track in the months following a £30,000 cash boost to take control of Seaton Town hall.

But just three months down the line, and a few wrangles, and Seaton’s Voice CIC are claiming their efforts and those of the many volunteers are starting to transform the success of the town hall.

In making the hall more affordable to the public it is now being used most weekdays for activities such as dance classes, table-top sales, exhibitions and birthday parties.

Events also include helping to ensure Seaton Panto went ahead this year, which meant more than £1,000 was able to be channelled back into the hall in the form of new equipment.

Carol Manley from Seaton’s Voice said: “It’s been a struggle for three months. But the biggest thing for me is the sense of everyone pulling together. The sense that everyone loves this building and has a passion for the building, not just Seaton’s Voice, eveyrone involved now feels this is everybody’s building.

“The passion and love we are seeing from the community for the building shows in the teams of volunteers we have painting and sanding, people are coming in with different ideas all the time.

“The biggest boost for us is when the volunteers talk about ‘our town hall’. For me we not only did the right thing but it will last.

Cash boost

“When we first started this we had to look at how to run it as a business and it’s the biggest thing for us in that we have to make this building run to be sustainable.”

Seaton’s Voice – which is made up of five woman - received the cash boost in January after a hotly debated town council meeting saw councillors narrowly vote in favour of the group after they secured the lease of the town hall from East Devon District Council.

The group started a campaign to take over the hall a year ago when it was feared the town would lose its only big function venue and theatre if EDDC decided to sell it due to it losing money every year.

Paying for itself

They have since charged themselves with running the hall as a business to make it pay for itself and return it to the community.

The Town Hall has hosted two sell out music concerts featuring “Joey and The Lips” and “Utter Madness”, and played a huge part in the Grizzly Fest by hosting various activities over the weekend.

A box office facility is now available after an initial public survey highlighted the need for groups to be able to offer bookings for numbered seating.

The group - along with a dedicated bunch of volunteers - are also in the midst of giving the hall a facelift, re-decorating the upstairs rooms, including the town council chambers.

The lounge and stairs is having the same treatment with people coming from the Panto, Confidance, Drama Club, Film Club, Royal British Legion and the Lions Club to help.

Mrs Manley said: “At its conception Seaton’s Voice had a dream to revive the town hall and make it the hub of the community.

“Rather like Seaton’s motto, which is ‘Seek, Strive, Attain’, this dynamic passionate group of five ladies did ‘seek’ the way to gain the town hall, have ‘striven’ to meet the terms of the lease, and, if their first three months is an example of their commitment, then they and the community are sure to ‘attain’ their goal.”

PICTURE: WORKING HARD - Seaton's Voice volunteers Adam Manning, Mary Bowles, Debbie Bradley, Sara Perry and Carol Manley

SEATON: Working hard to give new life to Seaton Town Hall

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