It is now public knowledge that sadly from 1st Christchurch URC will formally close with all activities and community use ceasing. Since arriving as the Headteacher in Walton on the Hill in 2013, I have worked with the Elders and congregation of the church to help retain the building with the school able to use the space afforded by the church buildings. It is sad that the URC are no longer able sustain the use of the buildings as a place of worship, however, I believe it is an invaluable resource to the community, St. Peters Church and the school and want to rally support to try and retain it for the village! The building is in very regular use from a whole range of very important social and leisure purpose from dawn to dusk with a whole range of potential further uses in the future. Currently the use includes the Open Group offering lunches and social opportunities to the elderly in the community, including the very popular Christmas and Lent Lunches; uniformed organisations; and more recently the fantastic fitness crew from Rascal Club and to lose these would be such a blow to the community of Walton on the Hill.
I have spoken to The Walton Forum committee who are very keen to support a project to retain the building for the use of the community and Revd. Harry Latham from St. Peters Church about how they can use the facilities going forward. Although clearly an ambitious project I am confident that we have the energy, commitment and range of skills within the school and wider community to make the project a success to benefit so many stakeholders. Our vision has always been that the space provided by the church buildings is invaluable to the community as a whole with groups such as the lunch clubs. It could provide a space for a local youth group; a village table tennis club; music groups to rehearse and perform perhaps even a community library that could be open to allow access to books for all throughout the year. On top of this the school could use the space for a wide range of purposes and would very much benefit from greater access in to the future. We would like to setup an art and craft room for the children to use which could also be used by the community; use the main church for our assemblies and performances; develop our range of extracurricular opportunities for the children – there is a lot of scope to develop the resource and sustain it to benefit so many groups in the village.
I have been in touch with County Councillor Rebecca Paul who has suggested some very useful information about how we might seek support for the project from Surrey County Council and working alongside The Walton Forum and other local groups we will strive to retain the buildings for the community. If you have any ideas or would like to discuss this project further please do get in touch with me at the school or via email: email@example.com.