Newton Valence Village Hall was re-opened by East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds on April 19 following a £180,000 refurbishment.

Bob Fewings - a trustee of Newton Valence Social Centre, which runs the hall - obtained £120,000 in grants from the National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund, Hampshire County Council, East Hampshire District Council, Cllr Charles Louisson, the Derrill Allatt Foundation, the Platinum Jubilee Village Hall Fund, Newton Valence Parish Council and St Mary's Church Parochial Church Council.

A further £25,000 was raised in under three months by donations from residents, and the remaining £35,000 came from Newton Valence Social Centre reserves.

Mr Fewings said: “We’re confident that the building is now a much more attractive and comfortable venue which will be put to good use by the community.

“This has been truly a real community effort, and that includes the volunteers who made the delicious canapés this evening.”

Mr Hinds said: “A community is all about people, and this village is clearly blessed with some very exemplary ones, of whom perhaps the single best example here is Bob.

“But there are many other people he listed who have given their time, ingenuity and money to make this happen as a truly amazing project.

“Buildings are important too as they are the places that bring us together, and what an amazing one this is, with such a rich heritage. Enormous passion has gone into it, and love has gone into it.”

The new-look hall is showing off the full splendour of its roof structure and a bare brick wall provides a striking contrast behind the new bar.

There is a new kitchen, two new toilets including an accessible one, a single-storey rear extension, insulation, electric radiators, four LED lights hanging from the ceiling rather than a single light, rugs over part of the wooden floor, and a wood burner donated by Tara Simpson in memory of her husband Ian so villagers can have cosy chats on winter nights.

Pictures of the various stages of the refurbishment were on display in the entrance lobby, and a big crowd gathered in the hall for the occasion, including Cllr Louisson and Cllr Mark Kemp-Gee.

The hall was created when three residents paid £800 - £130,000 at 2024 prices - to build a school which opened with 51 pupils in 1877. The youngest was just two years and three months old.

The school closed in 1927, having seen 635 pupils pass through its doors. The former school became the village social centre in May 1947. In November 1965 Newton Valence Social Centre became a registered charity. Organisations hosted by the hall included the horticultural society, the WI and the Conservative Association.

In the early 1990s a new roof was installed, along with oil-fired central heating, and a bar was built to open on Friday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes. Quizzes, live music nights and summer barbecues were held to get more use from the hall and boost its finances. These will continue into its future.