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Users of a popular community venue in a Stockton village are sitting pretty after winning funding from a regional employer for dozens of new chairs.

As part of an ongoing programme of improvements being carried out at Grindon Parish Hall, the management committee had been looking to replace its existing long-serving and worn-out seating in order to offer users a more comfortable place in which to spend their time.

And after applying to the community fund linked to Banks Renewables’ nearby Lambs Hill wind farm, it was awarded a £1,000 grant to help fund the purchase of 40 new padded metal chairs.

Originally built in 1923, Grindon Parish Hall hosts a wide range of community activities and events, including coffee mornings, an art club, parish council meetings, badminton and table tennis sessions, and a range of private functions.

It is also used as the venue for community training sessions on basic first aid and the use of the village’s automated external defibrillator, which is located there.

Plans are now being put in place to make further improvements to the fixtures and fittings at the Hall, as well as to one day make significant structural improvements to the 95 year-old building.

Lynne Williams, treasurer of the Grindon Parish Hall management committee, says: “The Hall is a very well-used venue, but having so many people using it naturally takes its toll, and we’ve been working towards making improvements both inside and outside the building.

“Our existing seating has been in use for around two decades and was really showing its age, so we knew replacing it was a priority if we were to be able to keep providing the sort of environment that our users want.

“We’ve had lots of great feedback on the difference that the new chairs have made to the place – our users really like them, and they’re so much more comfortable and attractive than their predecessors.

“It’s increasingly difficult for organisations like ours to get hold of grant funding, so when we were told about the money that the Banks Group had made available locally, we were very keen to put ourselves forward.

“Winning their support has allowed us to put this latest stage of our plans into action far sooner than would otherwise have been possible, and we’re now looking at what we might do next.”

The Lambs Hill community benefits fund provides around £10,000 of funding every year to local projects to ensure that tangible long-term local benefits result from the wind farm’s operations.

Eligibility for grants from the Lambs Hill wind farm community benefits fund is normally restricted to community projects and activities within Stillington & Whitton, Bishopton, Foxton, Great Stainton, Little Stainton, Grindon, and Bishopton Crossings, but projects outside these areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within them.

A funding committee comprised of village residents and supported by a dedicated fund manager from the Banks Community Fund team meets every few months to determine applications for grants submitted by local community groups and agrees how the fund can best be allocated to meet local spending priorities.

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The Lambs Hill wind farm fund is specifically intended to help improve the facilities available to people living in the communities around it, and this project fits perfectly with this ethos.

“We’re always keen to hear ideas from local people about how the revenues generated by the wind farm for the fund might best be used, and our funding committee meets every few months to decide which applications are most suitable for support.”

Anyone interested in applying for funding from the Lambs Hill wind farm community benefits fund should contact James Eaglesham at County Durham Community Foundation, who is the fund manager for the Banks Community Fund, on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.

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