MEMBERS of the community turned out for the burial of a time capsule outside its newly rebuilt church hall, marking the anniversary of the fire which destroyed the previous building.

The hall at St John’s Church in Meadowfield was destroyed by a fire on March 23, 2014, in a suspected arson attack.

Since then, a dedicated band of volunteers have been set on raising the thousands of pounds needed to rebuild the hall, which will now be used as a venue for the whole community.

Builders are getting ready to hand over the keys for the new hall, which is hoped will be back in use before long.

The Northern Echo:

The new hall at St John's Church is nearly finished

The event was held on Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of the fire.

Lesley Baxter, who has been involved in the fundraising campaign for the hall, said: “We’re hoping to get the keys in April. It’s still in the hands of the contractors so it’s not ours yet but we wanted to mark something for the anniversary of the fire.

“We’ve put together some memories of the church and the hall and of the new hall.

“I asked for suggestions from people about what they wanted to put in asked the community along. Hopefully some of the children who were there can dig it up in 50 years.”

The time capsule, which was funded by the County Durham Housing Group, was buried by Father Carl Peters, while children in the village’s Brownie and Guide groups, who will use the hall, also attended, alongside members of the church congregation.

The Northern Echo:

Members of the community outside the new hall

Among the items put in it were pictures drawn by pupils at Langley Moor Junior School, who had imagined what the village would look like in 100 years time, photographs of the old and new hall, including ones taken during the build, Northern Echo articles about the fire and fundraising campaign, a Brownie badge and a Dementia Friendly badge, as the new hall has been built according to guidelines aimed at making it easier to use by people with the condition.

It is hoped the community venue will be finished next month and an official opening event is being planned for the summer.

The public started raising money for the hall soon after the fire. Since then, dozens of fairs, afternoon teas and rock and roll nights have been organised to raise more than £26,000.

The rest of the £580,000 build was paid for through grant funding, including from local councillors members funds, Garfield Weston, Mid Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP) and the Catherine Cookson trust.

The Northern Echo:

(l-r) Fundraisers Tom and Jan Shoulder, Shirley Kidd, Carol Cook and Lesley Baxter

Ms Baxter added: “Hopefully it’s not long until it’s being used as a community hall.

“The old hall was condemned in 2012 so it’s been a long time since we’ve had a community hall on that side of the village.

“It’s been a big miss so I’m expecting it to be used for quite a lot of activities.

“It’s a big hall and it has a big kitchen. Once we get the keys people can come in and see it and see if they want to use it.”

Fundraising will continue to pay for landscaping around the hall and for new equipment.

When complete, the hall will be available for community use.