New hall rises from the ashes

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A CHURCH hall burned to the ground in an arson attack has been rebuilt and reopens tomorrow (Saturday).

Flames ripped through the building in Seaside in May 2010, leaving community groups and the Rising Stars Pre-school without a meeting place.

The church congregation and the community groups were devastated to have lost the hall, but fundraising started and the bigger and better community facility at the site behind the Arlington Arms is set to open.

Father David King, vicar of St Andrew’s Church, said, “It is absolutely wonderful and we’re very excited. It is the next chapter and perfect timing as later this month we celebrate our centenary.”

The opening of the new hall will be marked with a special service today (Friday) for members of the congregation and those who have contributed, followed on Saturday by the church’s annual Summer Fair which will be in the hall, 10am-2pm, and open to all.

The fair will be the first chance the community has had to see the finished building.

Father David said, “We are really pleased with the way the building work has gone and the finished result.There were a few delays but that is often the way with these sorts of projects and the bad weather didn’t help.

“However, we are very pleased it has all now been finished.”

Staff and children at Rising Stars Pre-school, who lost all their equipment in the blaze, are looking forward to moving back to the new facility and the guides, karate group and many church groups are also getting ready to make St Andrew’s Church Hall their base again.

Father David added, “We have also had requests from people wanting to use the hall for birthday parties and baptism celebrations - something we were not able to do before.” Father David said the rules had been changed slightly and the new building was now able to take bookings for parties.

He added, “We are really pleased because it means the hall will serve the wider community.”

Saturday’s fair will include the usual mixture of stalls including a grand draw with a first prize of £50, a barbecue and refreshments.

Pictured: Father David King and churchwarden Ian Tulley (E27108N)