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Volunteers celebrating the opening of Westgate Hall

Building rescued from demolition in 2010 finally reopens to public

DELIGHTED: Some of the Westgate Hall Trust, alongside the High Sheriff of Kent, Hugo Fenwick, who will act as patron of the hall
DELIGHTED: Some of the Westgate Hall Trust, alongside the High Sheriff of Kent, Hugo Fenwick, who will act as patron of the hall

THE Wesigate Hall, a building that was rescued from the brink of demolition in 2010, has been reopened by the volunteers who saved it. City counclilors and the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral were among the guests who joined the ceremony on Thursday night Hugo Fenwick, the High Sheriff of Kent, said he was “extremely honoured” to unveil the plaque and officially declare the hail open. The Trust’s co-chair Imogen Morizet, gave an emotional speech on the night, paying tribute to everyone involved in the project that began in 2010.

Jigsaw

She said:

“It’s not just members of the trust, everyqne here helped build this. We’re a jigsaw. We knew this building still had a role left to play. We’re now a company with charitable status. Throughout this process, everyone listened to us.”

In 2011, the city council gave the trust a 99 year lease on the building and it has been undergoing renovation ever since. Half of the ball will serve as a community space for groups and clubs to meet and the other half has been converted into a cinema. The Lord Mayor of Canterbury Ann Taylor said the rejuvenated hail had “been a long time coming”, adding:

“Now that it’s finished, it’s just magic. This shows what volunteers can do. This is your hall now.”

While Thursday was the hall’s official opening, it has already hosted some big events. Last month, the comedian and civic campaigner Griff Rhys Jones chose the hail as the venue to unveil his national charity’s manifesto. Speaking to the Times earlier this month, he said the hall was “a great example of what people can do”. The hall is already seeing a lot of use in the community, with a weekly Salsa class already taking place, history courses from the University of the Third Age, and a Christmas fair at midday on December 6 on the horizon.

Herne Bay Gazette, November 19th 2014

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