Times have changed but when one village in Ayrshire feared losing the hall that hosted so many special moments, the locals sprang into action.
Not only do they now have a plan to take control of the 117-year-old building, they’ve rediscovered something even greater just in time for Christmas – community spirit.
And the group of women behind their village’s revival believes every small community in the country can do the same.
Margaret Crawford, of the newly-formed Catrine Community Action Group, said: “Like many places, a lot of village events here stopped over the years because everyone has such busy lives.
“Catrine had just become a place where you slept and community spirit had dwindled.
“We’d already lost the post office, bank and youth club, so when East Ayrshire Council said at a public meeting in August that facilities like the library in the village hall and our games hall could go, the shock spurred some of us into action.”
After the public meeting, mum-of-three Margaret and five other women born and bred in Catrine decided to set up the action group and attempt to turn the village’s fortunes around.
“I held my wedding reception in the village hall, as did another of the ladies,” Margaret, an events organiser, continued.
“It’s been here since 1898 and was actually gifted to the villagers but the council took over the lease many years ago.
“During the miners’ strike, community dinners were held there because so many people were affected.”
The group used social media to inspire residents and drum up support, and the results were immediate.
“We’ve had Christmas lights in the village for the first time in years and also a tree.
“The lights were funded by local business donations, collection tins and we held a disco, craft fair and there was even a sponsored bounce by the toddlers’ group, which raised £800.
“Our Christmas finale is today where we’ll have carol singing and community dinner in the village hall.
“At the beginning of September we didn’t know what we were doing, but within weeks we’ve done all of this and it shows the potential.”
Margaret along with the rest of the group – Tracy Smith, Julie Smith, Robyn Dale, Tricia Galloway and Anne Thomson – need to have their business plans ready and hopefully approved by March, and they will then have three years to find the finances to take over the running of the village hall and games hall.
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