�50,000 refurb for solar-powered village hall

SOLAR power warmed the hearts of toddlers and pensioners for the first time in Tilney St Lawrence village hall on Wednesday after a �50,000 refurbishment.

Now one of the greenest village halls in the region, it had 16 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, a new heating cylinder and roof insulation fitted thanks to funding from various sources.

And Keith Bodimeade, the chair and champion of the hall, was yesterday described as a fundraising “bulldozer” after his fundraising total for the hall surpassed �226,000 in six years.

Mr Bodimeade put the 18-month project together by securing grants from not-for-profit organisation WREN and the local borough council.

Asked about the environmentally-friendly refit he said: “We wanted to keep costs down and keep it green. We’ve been told it will make a 60% difference to our energy bills.”

He said he first noticed the difference when taking a short breather: “I leant against the radiator and thought, ‘wow, this is on’.”

Norfolk and Cambridgeshire not-for-profit organisation WREN provided �36,000 of the �50,000 refurbishment.

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Sarah Gosling, the grant manager for WREN said: “It’s a great success story; a complete environmental refurb.”

“The irony is we bought these green, environmentally-friendly benches and our funding comes entirely from landfill tax.”

Lucinda Leonard, development officer for the charity Norfolk Rural Community Council said: “This excellent project shows that can-do communities can get capital projects off the ground for their communities.”

And Barry Ayres, St Lawrence Ward councillor said: “Keith is like a bulldozer. His contribution is laudable.

“The green aspect is fantastic. Everyone’s impressed with it. For community cohesion this is the last word.”

“Just all credit to the hall and the contribution they make to the community. It shows what can be done when everyone pulls together.”