A VILLAGE hall in desperate need of refurbishment has launched its £32,000 appeal, but with £28,200 already in the bank.

The Speke Hall WISH appeal has got off to a storming start thanks to massive grant donations and private fundraising.

The committee is already 88 per cent of the way towards its total.

Pippa Sage, one of the trustees, said: “The Speke Hall in Dowlish Wake is an intrinsic part of rural community life, being used by villagers and people from the nine conurbations, farms and isolated houses all year round.

“The building is more than 170 years old, Grade II Listed and was originally the village school.

“The trustees have had to spend hard won money to construct drainage for excesses of rainwater from an adjacent property and make good the interior of the building. However, the kitchen has suffered from water ingress and they have recently renewed its roof.”

The site has a grass car park which is dangerous when wet and unsuitable for disabled users.

The kitchen needs work to meet modern hygiene, health and safety standards, the hot water is a poor quality and a dish washer is needed.

Pippa added: “The kitchen is poorly designed for the many events that the committee provides and cannot match the facilities that our users require and have seen elsewhere.

“The trustees must ensure modern hygiene, health and safety regulations.

“They want to provide a facility that can cook food on the premises instead of cooks running to and from their own homes with hot but rapidly cooling food.

“Our hot water heater is totally inadequate for drinks and dish-washing is manual taking up to three hours. Less than ideal for wedding and birthday parties.”

Private donations already total £1,700, and £10,000 grants were received from South Somerset District Council and National Lottery Community Fund.

St Andrew’s Church has gifted £3,500, Wessex Water gave £2,500, and Dowlish Wake Parochial Church Council has donated £500.

Project WISH (Works Improving Speke Hall) Appeal was launched on March 15, during which around 70 people saw the hall, met trustees and heard the plans.

Pippa said: “The trustees have planned to ensure that the hall can continue to support its scattered rural community well into the future.

“To this end the Trustees have established the Project WISH Appeal to solve both the car park and the kitchen shortcomings.”

To contribute to the WISH Appeal fund, contact Duncan Rigby on 01460 52311.