Crailing’s hall soon to be open to all, thanks to cash boost

A community hall currently a no-go zone for disabled villagers and a struggle for those with buggies is set to fling open its doors to all, thanks to a funding boost of almost £12,500.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 9:59 am
Malcolm McGregor, with Nell and John Pearson, Secretary of the Lothian Hall Committee

Crailing’s Lothian Hall, near Kelso, will soon benefit from an improved tarred entrance and car park aimed at increasing its accessibility.

The National Lottery has pledged £10,000 for the works, and a further £2,450 has been secured from Scottish Borders Council’s community grant scheme last week.

That means the community-owned hall, and the 250-odd users it hosts each month, will no longer have to rely on roadside parking or a gravel car park, making access difficult for those with youngsters in buggies and the elderly with wheelchairs.

“The hall is a very necessary part of the village and this improved access will be welcomed,” hall committee secretary John Pearson said.

“It’s used as a polling station, which is quite regularly at the moment, we have fortnightly coffee mornings for local people and it’s open for hire to anybody that wants it.

“It doesn’t get used as much as we would like, but we would hope that once we get the disabled access it will make it a bit more accessible for people.

“Ironically, we even have a disabled toilet but no easy way for disabled people t,o get into the actual hall.”

The building – comprising a main hall, committee rooms and kitchen – is at the heart of the village and could now be used to host the likes of gentle exercise classes too, organisers say.

Hall chairman Malcolm McGregor added: “The user base for the hall is ageing, with several of the members now in a wheelchairs, and they are finding it difficult to access the hall along the existing gravel path without significant levels of help.

“The hall provides opportunities for individuals to maintain social connections, in turn encouraging users to maintain their independence, yet the current situation compromises this before users can get into the hall.

“With the proposed closure of day centres and an expectation that clients will attend community activities instead, there is an increasing pressure on village halls to offer adequate access.”