Special guests at unveiling of Village Hall improvements

The distant relative of a village benefactor was among guests at an event to mark the completion of £25,000 of improvements at Claypole Village Hall.

A full kitchen refurbishment was made thanks to a grant of £19,620 from South Kesteven District Council’s allocation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It was unveiled on Sunday to coincide with national Village Halls Week.

The hall itself, built in 1923, was paid for by Claypole-born Harry Coulby, who made his fortune in shipping in the USA but never forgot his roots.

The son of a farm labourer, he left school in 1877 at the age of 14. After making his way to America he joined a steamship company as a clerk and by 1904 had worked his way up to be its president.

Malcolm Coulby, 70, from Bingham, attended the unveiling. His five times removed great-grandfather was Harry Coulby’s great-grandfather.

Although a distant relative, Malcolm and his wife Marylyn have researched his family tree and he said he felt a real sense of pride at the family connection.

“Harry’s story would be an inspiration to anyone – it shows that anything is possible,” said Malcolm.

Also at the unveiling were relatives of another former villager, Jane Taylor, who passed away seven years ago leaving money for the village hall in her will, which was used to help pay for the latest improvements.

Her daughter Pip Hall, grand-daughter Flo Hall and sister Sally Leaver said they were delighted the bequest had been put to such good use.

“Claypole was her home for 20 years,” said Pip. “She was a great lady and this is a lovely way to remember her.”

The kitchen now has modern fixtures and fittings and upgraded cooking facilities that means those hiring the hall can provide hot meals and it can host food-related activities, such as cooking and baking workshops.

Claire Simmonds, Chair of the Claypole Village Hall management team, said: “Upgrading the kitchen was one of the final steps in a long journey of renovation work at the hall.

“The hall celebrated its centenary last year and we are delighted to be able to keep it looking its best to ensure it’s ready to serve the community for another 100 years.”

In December 2022 the Government announced that South Kesteven was to receive £3.9m as its share of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The money is used to finance projects that deliver improvements to community buildings and green spaces, and provide funds for culture, arts, and heritage initiatives.

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