A COMMUNITY celebrated the opening of its new £150,000 village hall after a long campaign which involved traditional fundraising events and a modern crowdfunding appeal.

The villagers of Croft-on-Tees, near Darlington, raised the money to replace their dilapidated old hall through an evening with Ian Botham, a James Bond-themed ball, Northern soul nights and by also utilising online methods.

They were also large grants from Sport England, the Big Lottery Fund, the Bernard Sunley Trust and the Cookson Trust.

The new hall is behind the site of the old one, which was built in 1985. It was formally opened on Saturday afternoon by Bill Chaytor, whose family have owned land in the area for centuries and whose estate played a major role in the project.

Village Hall Committee deputy chair Danny Pyrah said: “We are very fortunate to live in a strong community like Croft, and socialising in the village hall is an important part of that. The old hall had reached the end of its life, so it’s great our future is now secure with this impressive new building. There are so many people to thank, so many people who contributed, in so many different ways.”

Scores of events were arranged by villagers to raise money – and nearly as many applications were made to potential grant funders.

“Many organisations who had money to fund village halls up to a few years ago, like local authorities, now have nothing to give because of austerity,” said Mr Pyrah. “But the strong commitment of Croft and the involvement of so many people impressed funders and we got what we needed.

“This has truly been a community venture, we have our new hall, and how it will now be used is an unfolding story.”

The hall can accommodate 70 people and is available for hire. Contact Danny Pyrah on dpyrah@hotmail.com for further information.