The village hall at Trimley St Martin, which was destroyed in an arson attack in June last year, will be refurbished thanks to the generosity of local charities, including The John Gilpin Trust, which is administered by the Southwold office of Suffolk law firm, Margary + Miller.
Commenting on the decision to donate £1,500, solicitor Stevan Stratton, who is the Head of the Personal Injury Department at Margary + Miller, said: “I was approached by Kit Coutts, the Parish Clerk at Trimley, who asked whether we would be able to help with the refurbishment costs.
“Through the staff in our Felixstowe office, I was aware of the impact the arson attack had had on the local community. The John Gilpin Trust was established to provide grants to charitable organisations and groups, so The Trimley Memorial Hall Committee was an ideal benefactor.”
Kit is understandably delighted with the financial support the project has received: “The hall meant an awful lot to local residents and was really well used so we were devastated when it was burnt down. From 1924 it served as a permanent memorial to the officers and men of the village who fell in the Great War and in more recent years it became a valuable social hub for the community.
“The hall, which is run as a registered charity, was also able to offer concessionary booking rates to charities, voluntary and non-profit making organisations, so was used by groups within the whole of Felixstowe Peninsula.”
The rebuilding of the hall, which will involve the retention of the existing structurally sound walls, will be paid for by the insurance company, as will some of the contents. However, additional funding will be required to complete the refurbishment. A number of local charities have already helped towards these costs. In addition to The John Gilpin Trust, The Britten-Pears Foundation, the Scarfe Foundation, the Suffolk Fund and the Port Community Fund have all pledged their support.
The Trimley Memorial Hall Committee is hopeful that the building work and refurbishment will be completed by the end of July this year, to coincide with the centenary of the start of the First World War.
Despite the generosity of all those involved, the refurbishment costs remain substantial. For instance, the stage curtains alone cost an estimated £7,000 as these need to be made to measure from a fire retardant material. If you would like to help, please contact Kit Coutts by email: email@example.com or telephone 01394 448669.
• Pictured above From left to right: Kit Coutts, Trimley Parish Clerk, Keith Slaughter, Chairman of The Trimley Memorial Hall Committee and Stevan Stratton, Head of Personal Injury, Margary + Miller. Below the devastation following the attack.