Reading Room News Archive

News Archive 2013-2015

General Management Meeting Held On 4/12/15 posted 02 January 2016

Bill England - Chairman
Cec Harrold – Vice Chairman
Richard Foster - Treasurer
Chris Thorpe – Village Cafe
Doreen England - Steward
Jo Kirtland – Secretary

Judy Cairns
Sue Lidgley
Barbara Buxton
Danny Moody
Christine Bridger
Enid Kebble

  • Apologies: Jennifer Saunders, Michelle Rimmer, Becky Leitelmayer, Morag Underwood, Angel Goodall.
  • Minutes of the General Management Meeting held on the 20th November 2014 were signed as an accurate record of the meeting.
  • There were no matters arising from the minutes.
  • Chairman's Annual Report:

"Another successful year for The Reading Room, with most slots being taken up by village functions, and a lot of children's parties and christenings, although Saturday evening functions have been a bit disappointing, maybe we are not selling the venue to the private punter, that probably needs to be on the agenda for future meetings.

The cottage has a refurbished kitchen, and up to now it seems the damp proofing has been a success, which makes for a very happy tenant. There has been a survey of the cottage to give a true assessment of the rentable value of the property, and I will ask Richard to read out the points of value during his report.

Next I would like to say thank you to those of you who have shown me support over the last sixteen years, and helped to make this Reading Room what it is today, but unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and as I said at the AGM, Doreen any myself are not going to stand for re-election in the May meeting. I will be perfectly honest, after certain events this last couple of months, I had already written my letter of resignation to take effect at this meeting, but I was persuaded against it. I am sure whoever replaces us will get the same support as you have shown us. Just be careful to elect someone who has the Reading Room at heart, and not just their own organisation. Whoever is elected will have Doreen's and my help for the first few months if required, so that there is a smooth transition."

  • Treasurer's Report 2015:

"At the AGM I reported that the end of year closing balance was exaggerated by £5230 of unpaid invoices for improvements to the cottage which would be paid in the current year. Their payment has resulted in an excess of payments over receipts of £1600 in the first six months of the year but if we avoid any unexpected repairs before the year end, the closing balance should recover to £20,000, which will be similar to the previous two years despite the £10,200 invested in the cottage.

My suggestion that we should commission a rent review of the cottage was accepted at the AGM and I have the report with me if anyone wishes to read it.

In summary the current rent is £500 per calendar month and we are due to review it at the next AGM following the improvements. Davies and Partners suggest the best achievable and sustainable rent would be £600 per calendar month without any further improvements. However, if the cottage was completely re-decorated throughout and new carpets fitted they estimate a monthly rent of £825 could be achieved".

  • General Housekeeping: Judy Cairns asked about radiator covers being removed to give the radiators a good clean. This will happen when the room gets redecorated. A bonus for the cleaner was discussed and £50 was agreed. Judy Cairns proposed and Cec Harold seconded. A new broom is needed and Judy Cairns is going to look at all the cleaning equipment and do a list of any other items that are needed or need replacing.
  • Re-decoration of main hall/extension: 2 quotes have been received to prep and paint with 2 coats of the same colour as previously done. AL Property Services was £4765.00 and Eddie Garner was £2130.00 – concerns were raised over the price difference, but both parties looked at the job and what they included in doing were the same, so it was decided to accept Eddie's quote and if he has some additional costs that he has overlooked it still wouldn't amount to the other quote. Danny Moody proposed and Richard Foster seconded.
  • Eddie Garner will be asked to redecorate the front door as an extra to the internal decorations. Christine Bridger proposed and Sue Lidgley seconded.
  • Extraction Unit: Chris Thorpe has looked into this and an industrial unit is not needed. Domestic cooker hoods will work, with one above each cooker and you can get ones that vent out externally or have internal filter vents. Units are around £90 - £150 each. The cooker in front of the window would not be able to be vented externally unless you went up through the ceiling. It was thought that external venting would be best so Christine Bridger proposed to obtain quotes for external vents and Bill England seconded.
  • Damp in committee room cupboards: A quote has been obtained for taking off the plaster and leaving the wall to dry. When it has dried out it can be re-plastered and and the cupboard doors will have holes drilled in them for ventilation. Everyone is happy with the progression of this.
  • Installation of Internet: Tove Valley Broadband are providing this for free as they are given a grant to provide community buildings with internet. Bill England has kindly provided a router for them to use, and they hope the internet will be up and running by the New Year. The Reading Rooms will need to have a TV Licence, Bill England has been looking into this.
  • Cottage and Reading Room loft insulation: Rupert had commented to Sue Lidgley that there was no loft insulation. Apparently it was thought to have been done in 1997. Bill England will meet with Rupert and have a look. In the Reading Room the only area is over the ladie's toilet, and no one was worried about that area being done.
  • Cottage bathroom: When Bill England meets with Rupert he will also discuss his concerns on the bathroom. He will also discuss the recent improvements and the rental amounts and report back to the working committee.
  • Steps at the front of the Reading Room: The paint has been purchased, they are just waiting for the steps to dry out suitably and decent weather to be able to apply it.
  • Door mat in entrance: Sue Lidgley got a quote for barrier matting in the entrance for £187.50. It was agreed that when the decorating has been finished the mat can be purchased. Sue Lidgley proposed and Richard Foster seconded.
  • Main Hall Floor: Sue Lidgley wanted people to be aware that the floor can be slippy. It has been treated with a non-slip "traffic wax" but certain shoe soles can still be slippy. There isn't much more we can do about that.

Enid Kebble, stepping in for Angela Goodall, had been asked to ask if some eyelet hooks could be put on top of the pelmets to hang decorations etc from. If it can be done without them being seen there were no objections to doing this.

Meeting Start: 7.30pm
Meeting Finish: 8.40pm

General Management Meeting posted 25 November 2015

This will be held on Friday 4th December 2015 at 7-30 pm in the Reading Room.


  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the General Management Meeting held on 20th November 2014
  • Matters arising
  • Chairman's Report
  • Treasurer's Report
  • General Housekeeping
  • To consider tenders for re-decoration of main hall/extension
  • Re-decoration of front door
  • Report on extraction unit
  • Damp in committee room cupboards
  • Installation of Internet
  • Cottage and RR loft insulation where possible
  • Cottage bathroom
  • Steps at front of RR
  • Door mat in entrance
  • Main hall floor

Jo Kirtland

To All Users Of The Reading Room posted 07 October 2015

If you have any electricity meter tokens, which you have obtained or bought, and will not be using, can you please, please return them to me and you will be reimbursed for the cost. We have just given out the last 2 in our possession, and somewhere there is another 38. We do not seem able to purchase any more, and unless we get some returned, there will be problems using the power in the kitchen. I thank you in anticipation.
Bill England

Lost Property Left In The Reading Room - posted 29 August 2015

Girl's red GEORGE anorak (age 10 or 11)
Long bright pink evening dress in a bag
Three long winter scarves: Red, mauve and purple
Please collect from the Porch.

Minutes of Reading Room Annual General Meeting held on Thursday 25.06.15 - posted 22 August 2015

Bill England - Chairman
Cec Harrold - Vice-Chairman
Richard Foster - Treasurer
Chris Thorpe – Village Cafe
Doreen England - Steward
Jo Kirtland – Secretary

Becky Leitelmayer
Judy Cairns
David Brookhouse
Sue Lidgley
Barbara Buxton
Morag Underwood
Judith Elkington

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.

  • Apologies: Danny Moody and Jennifer Saunders.
  • Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on the 19th June 2014 were signed as an accurate record of the meeting.
  • There were no matters arising from the minutes.
  • Chairman's Annual Report:

"Another successful year for The Reading Room. We are financially sound as will be reflected in Richard's report next. I believe we have all addressed most of the problems we had, and I'm sure if we haven't, someone will tell us during the course of this meeting.

Three new representatives have joined our happy band:
Angela Goodall who is the Tuesday Lunches Representative,
Danny Moody who is the Parish Council Representative, replacing yours truly.
I have taken over the roll of 200 Club Rep.

All of these roles must be registered with the Charity Commission and I am sure Jo will furnish us with the appropriate paperwork later on.

The biggest work completed was the Cottage Kitchen, we have a very happy tenant, although he had to have the patience of a saint to live with no water, and no sink, no proper cooking facilities for 3 weeks. He never complained and still offered to do his own decorating. It didn't go as smoothly as we would have liked, but all's well that ends well.

The Kitchen has had a lick of paint, and it obviously was approved by the health & hygiene because they awarded Tuesday Lunches 5 stars, well done for that.

We continue to take bookings and the Reading Room is very well used, and many people who have not used it before comment how pleased they were with the venue. We must not stand on our laurels however, it won't be long before we will have to redecorate the main building before it gets too bad.

I think I have covered most of what I wanted to say, except thank you for your continued support and thank you for your patience over the delay of the AGM."

  • Treasurer's Report:

I am pleased to report that the Reading Room income for 2014/15 has remained reassuringly consistent at £12,471.92. Many of you will recall that there was some concern around 2010 when the income from the Acorns was lost with their final payment contributing to an income of £11,750 in 2010/11.

This concern proved unfounded with the launch of the 200 Club and opening of the Café and after much hard work and commitment from many in the community the Reading Room income was not only been maintained but increased.

Helmdon Reading Room Income:
2011 £13,400
2012 £13,500
2013 £13,500
2014 £12.860

In addition £23,000 was raised in grants and fund raising and £28,800 spent on refurbishing the facilities between 2011 and 2013.

Last year we agreed that with a very healthy closing bank balance of £20,470 we should endeavour maintain to the cottage, which generates half the Reading Room income, to the same high standard as the hall. During the past year £10,200 has been invested in double glazing, damp proofing and replacing the kitchen so you may be asking how we have maintained the closing bank balance at £19,672.

It is not creative accounting but due to a few delays only invoices totalling £4975 were paid before March 31st, the balance of £5230 have been paid in the current financial year giving a more realistic closing balance of £14,442.

I will just take this opportunity before the discussion on agenda item 11 "Letting fees & Refunds" to suggest that during our considerable investment our tenant has shown great patience and understanding despite the rather protracted renovation of the kitchen and offered to undertake the redecoration himself. Therefore we should not be looking for a rent increase for the next twelve months. However as none of us are experts in the field I think we should be considering asking a local letting agent to undertake a rent review which could inform us of any further investment required to bring the cottage facilities up to the same standard as the rest of the property.

  • Village Café Report:

"The café entered its 5th year as of the start of 2015, having been established in 2011.

It has continued to grow and appears as popular as ever with customers from right across the age spectrum.

The café from a financial perspective works on the calendar year as this ties in with its establishment. Therefore the figures I am about to give will differ from the RR Treasurer's financial reports which are tied to the financial year, i.e. April to March.

All the profits from the Café go directly to the RR.
In 2011 the café gave £1000 to the RR after start up costs.
In 2012 this increased to £1600.
2013 saw a contribution of £1700.
In 2014 this dropped back to £1600 as we needed a refresh of equipment. £390 was spent on new table cloths and all new cafetieres.

In the current year, as of the end of June £1100 has been handed over, having also bought new teapots and flowers to the sum of approximately £100. So it would suggest we will be looking at another successful year.

Finally, I think it would be appropriate to thank all of the volunteers who make cakes and run the café."

  • Correspondence: There has been no correspondence.
  • Auditor: Everyone is happy with the current auditor.
  • Insurance: It was discussed to look into the Re-build value on the insurance, and make sure it is the correct amount. Morag Underwood proposed that a Surveyor's Recommendation to give the current value is obtained and the insurance value is matched to that. Becky Leitelmayer seconded this.
  • Letting Fees: All were in favour of no rent increase on the Cottage for 12 months. The Tenancy Agreement will be reviewed. Village group fees and private hire rates will also remain the same, agreed by all.
  • Work on Cottage: Photos were shown of the completed work. After overcoming some obstacles the finished work is very good and most of all the tenant is very happy.
  • General Housekeeping: Generally this has been good. One Tuesday morning the cleaner found the toilet had somehow been moved off its fixings. Bill England spent sometime to rectify this. No one is sure who did this, but it is believed that the Guides were the last group to be using the facilities. It had been reported that the kitchen taps had come off – thoughts were "wear and tear" as these had been loose. Morag Underwood proposed that an annual Professional Clean be done and Becky Leitelmayer seconded this.
  • Kitchen Tidiness: Doreen England thought the kitchen had become a bit untidy and in need of a bit of a clear out. It is in the "Conditions of Use" to "Leave as you find" but it is difficult to enforce this. Sue Lidgley suggested getting together with the groups to do an inventory of all their equipment and make sure it was put in correct cupboards. Sue was happy to spend time doing this.
  • Extraction Unit: Bill England thought it could be replaced like for like, but was pointed out by people that work in the kitchen that with cooking and the dishwasher creating a lot of steam that a more effective unit would be needed. Chris Thorpe will look into prices of new unit.
  • Damp Issue in Committee Room: Damp work has been done from the cottage side, but there is still a problem committee room side. Sue Lidgley met with Peter Cox and they have suggested taking off the plaster and skirting and letting it dry out. When dry, re-plaster and drill holes in the cupboard doors to allow the air to circulate. Quotes will be obtained.
  • Blackout Blinds: Morag Underwood explained that it was the light coming down from behind the current blinds that is a problem. She has been looking into options and the best one is a cassette that sits into the window opening and the roller blinds are in a frame. Sue Lidgely said that if this option went ahead, anyone using the blackout blinds had to leave them open when not in use, and the current blinds are to also stay. Sue Lidgely proposed Morag go ahead and obtain quotes and Morag Underwood seconded this.
  • Steps outside RR: Sue Lidgely proposed the steps were repainted professionally. All agreed to go ahead with this.
  • Missing bits and pieces: Generally has been covered in Item 13 General Housekeeping. It was re-iterated that all items need to be put away in the correct place when finished with.

Meeting Start: 8pm
Meeting Finish: 9.10pm

Jo Kirtland

Final Agenda For Reading Room AGM to Be Held on Thursday 25 June - posted 23 June 2015

The Annual General Meeting will take place on Thursday 25th June. All are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards.

The AGM will be followed by a short meeting (of the General Management Committee only) for the election of officers.

  • Chairman's welcome
  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 19th June 2014
  • Matters arising from the minutes
  • Chairman's annual report
  • Treasurer's annual report
  • Cafe' report
  • Correspondence
  • Auditor
  • Insurance
  • Letting fees & Refunds
  • Work on the RR Cottage
  • General Housekeeping
  • Kitchen tidiness
  • Extraction Unit and Wall tiles (kitchen)
  • Damp issue in Committee Room
  • Blackout Blinds
  • Steps outside the Reading Room
  • Missing bits & pieces

Jo Kirtland

AGM to Be Held on 25 June - posted 10 June 2015

The Annual General Meeting will take place on Thursday 25th June. All are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards.

The AGM will be followed by a short meeting (of the General Management Committee only) for the election of officers.


  • Chairman's welcome
  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 19th June 2014
  • Matters arising from the minutes
  • Chairman's annual report
  • Treasurer's annual report
  • Cafe' report
  • Correspondence
  • Auditor
  • Insurance
  • Extraction Unit and Wall tiles (kitchen)
  • Damp issue in Committee Room
  • Letting fees & Refunds
  • General Housekeeping
  • Kitchen tidiness
  • Work on the RR Cottage
  • Blackout Blinds
  • Missing bits & pieces

All additions to the agenda must be submitted to the secretary by Thursday 18th June. Any items not on the agenda will not be resolved at this meeting, but will be an agenda item in the General Management Meeting held in November.

Jo Kirtland

Postponement of AGM - posted 16 May 2015

Unfortunately the Reading Room AGM due to be held on Thursday 21st May is going to have to be postponed, because of the Chairman's incapacity following an accident.

We will look at re-arranging this hopefully sometime in June.

Jo Kirtland

AGM to Be Held on 21 May - posted 10 May 2015

The Annual General Meeting will take place on the above date at 8-00 p.m. in the Reading Room. Alll are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards.

The AGM will be followed by a short meeting (of the General Management Committee only) for the election of officers.


  • Chairman's welcome
  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 19th June 2014
  • Matters arising from the minutes
  • Chairman's annual report
  • Treasurer's annual report
  • Cafe report
  • Correspondence
  • Auditor
  • Insurance
  • Extraction Unit (kitchen)
  • Letting fees
  • General Housekeeping
  • Kitchen tidiness
  • Missing bits & pieces
  • Reading Room Cottage

All additions to the agenda must be submitted to the secretary by Thursday 14th May Any item not on the agenda will not be resolved at this meeting, but will be an agenda item in the General Management Meeting held in November.

Reading Room Left In Untidy State - posted 07 December 2014

There have been a few complaints from users of The Reading Room, concerning the condition of the room after other functions. The conditions of use clearly state :

9. Please sweep the floor and if there have been any spills, please mop them up. Brooms, mop, etc can be found in the cleaner's cupboard at the rear of the kitchen.
10. Please wipe down all tabletops, then stack the tables away in the extension room ensuring that the safety chain is in place. Please wipe down the kitchen table and surfaces.
11. Please empty all waste bins as required into the commercial waste bin situated on thedrive and replace liners. These can be found in the cleaner's cupboard in the kitchen.
12. Please completely empty the refrigerator before leaving the building.

Unfortunately this is not always the case.

The cleaner is only employed for 4 hrs a week, and cannot be expected to be in attendance after each function. The Steward however has in the past cleaned up when she has found it necessary, this cannot be expected of her on every occasion. We therefore intend to ask the cleaner to attend if cleaning up etc. is needed, at a cost of £10 ph, and will be reimbursed from the offending party.

It would be appreciated if you could make sure the chairs are stacked in a safe manner, it has been found 6 in a stack is more convenient, dishwasher is drained and clean [ procedures for this can be found in the kitchen window sill ]

We know you will do your best to help in this matter, and look forward to improvement.

Bill England [Chairman]
On behalf of Reading Room Committee.

Minutes Of The Management Meeting Thursday 20 November - posted 30 November 2014

Committee Present: Bill England (Chairman)
Cecil Harrold (Vice Chairman)
Richard Foster ( Treasurer)
Doreen England (Steward)
Chris Thorpe (Village Café)
Barbara Whitlock (Secretary)
Jo Kirtland (Secretary)

Judy Cairns
David Brookhouse
Sue Lidgley
Barbara Buxton
Morag Underwood
Wiggy Smith

  • Apologies: Danny Moody, Becky Leitelmayer, Jenny Saunders
  • Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 28th November 2013. These were signed as a true and accurate copy of the meeting.
  • Matters Arising: Morag Underwood asked about the blinds that were requested by the Bridge Players. There has been no progress due to the cost. Morag and/or Becky will get costs for the blinds and get back to the Chairman.
  • Chairman's Report: The Reading Room has been a very popular venue again this year, with very few evenings available for bookings. Daytime bookings are doing very well too.

Mondays are booked for Art Group and Pilates. The rest of the week is taken up by Helmdon Café, Post Office, Reiki sessions and once a month the Church Lunches. In fact the only day that is comparatively free is Wednesday. Weekends are frequently taken up by christenings and children's parties.

General housekeeping unfortunately needs to be addressed. One or two organisations are letting their standards slip concerning the way the room is left and a few complaints have been received. We will discuss this in item 6 on the agenda. There is still some concern over the stacking of the chairs, it really should not need notices put up, except maybe for the casual bookings. I think the real reason more care is not taken is people rushing to get away.

Financially we are doing alright but I will leave it for Richard's financial report.

We have of course a new vice chairman, so I will welcome Cec Harrold on to the committee.

I would also like to welcome Jo Kirtland who has volunteered to be the new secretary of the Reading Room. All will be revealed in Item 13 on the agenda.

Once again I thank you for your continued support for the Reading Room and I have no doubt it will continue in the future.

  • Treasurer's Report: I would like to start by thanking the W.I, Women's Club, W.E.A., Lunch Club and Helmdon Presents for paying the invoices for their April to September usage promptly. With £450 from the 200 Club and £165 from Private bookings in October I have paid over £1000 into the bank this month. You can assume that those not mentioned are yet to pay.

Those who have not been the Treasurer of their organisations may not appreciate how generous the Reading Room hire terms are for village organisations giving up to six months to pay, so a quick response to the invoices is expected and appreciated.

Year to date income is steady at £6500, just £130 up on last year, expenditure at £4500 is up £1200 after spending £2500 on the cottage double glazing and less on other repairs.

My forecast for the remainder of the year if we spend £5000 on the cottage kitchen, £1250 making the roof watertight (a total of £8250) is the bank should still be around £18,000, down £2500 from the end of last year.

That is with no provision for items 9 to 11 on the agenda and unforeseen repairs.

  • General Housekeeping: There have been complaints with regard to the way groups have left the Reading Room. The RR must be left in a clean state ready for the next group to come into. The Chairman will be sending a letter to all of the Helmdon organisations stating that if the cleaner has to be hired after the room has been used, then that organisation will be charged at £10 per hour for the cleaning. This charge will be added to their invoice. Sue Lidgley proposed and Wiggy Smith seconded this motion. All were in agreement.

The chairs are being damaged and torn due them not being stacked properly.

  • Cleaners Christmas Bonus: Sue Lidgley proposed and Judy Cairns seconded that the cleaner should have a bonus of £50 as in previous years. However, Morag Underwood claimed that the place is not cleaned very well and Wiggy Smith was in agreement. Wiggy Smith had bought bleach to clean the toilets herself as she believed the cleaning cupboard to be locked as are all the other cupboards. However, the Chairman stated that the cleaning cupboard is not locked and there is bleach in that cupboard. It would be difficult to replace the cleaner that we have.
  • Cottage Kitchen: Two quotes received for addressing the damp. This will cost £1253 to put right. Judy Cairns suggested Care and Repair for the job as they have done some work for her satisfactorily. Sue Lidgley will also find out the name of another person who could do the job. The issue with the damp is holding up the repairs to the kitchen in the cottage.

Cec Harrold asked if some of the internal work could not be done while waiting for the damp/roof to be addressed. But it is not possible.

There have been two quotes received for the new kitchen. One from Walden for £3538 but he is too busy at present. Emerson quoted £3878 which is rather expensive. Cec Harrold has also approached B&Q who gave a quote for £3373 to fit and supply units but not the plastering. However, it is not known how long this quote is valid for. Cec has spent time with Rupert who rents the cottage and B&Q meet all his requirements. There may have to be some re-designing of the kitchen due to the cooker being located rather near to a doorway. Also the issue came up that if the cottage kitchen was so damp are those same walls on the other side, in the Reading Room, also damp? Someone needs to examine the Reading Room cupboards. Bill England will get quotes for damp proofing.

It was suggested that while the cottage kitchen was being renovated Rupert could make use of the Reading Room kitchen.

  • New Handrail for Steps: This should have been done in the summer and the Chairman had wanted all the building work to be done at the same time. Care and Repair who Judy Cairns suggested will be contacted to see if they could put up a hand rail before winter really sets in.
  • Fluorescent Yellow Markings: Barbara Buxton suggested that as a temporary measure we buy some stickers. Doreen asked why we couldn't just paint them ourselves. Morag asked why the disabled could not be diverted to the back door but this has been tried unsuccessfully.
  • Saucepans, kitchen hand towel and rubbish bin: Wiggy thanked Bill for the curtain that has been put up in the kitchen. She then went on to say that the hand towel and the toilet paper smelt very bad. This is due to the smell in the cupboard from the damp but there is no other place that could be used for storage. Doreen England suggested that they be kept in the committee room on the window sill as a temporary measure, behind the curtain. Bill England said he will replace the bin and the Treasurer will refund Wiggy Smith the cost of two new saucepans. All in favour.
  • Telephone: Wiggy Smith feels that there is a real need to have a working telephone on the premises. This has been looked into before and the cost is too high. Should there be a real emergency there is no mobile phone signal. However, the Reading Room is under no obligation to have a working telephone. Wiggy proposed we re-install it but no-one seconded.
  • Resignation of Barbara Whitlock as secretary: She was thanked for the work she had done and accepted gifts. " It has been a pleasure to serve the Reading Room for the past 4 years. Thank you very much indeed for the gifts." Jo Kirtland was then introduced as the new secretary.
  • Chairman's position on committee: Bill England will be resigning from the Parish Council and will therefore lose his representation to the Reading Room. A way will have to be found by May for him to remain as Chairman of the Reading Room. This must be done officially.

The meeting ended at 21.00

Agenda For Management Meeting Thursday 20 November - posted 07 November 2014

  1. Apologies
  2. Minutes of General Management Meeting held on 28th November 2013
  3. Matters arising
  4. Chairman's report
  5. Treasurer's report
  6. General housekeeping
  7. Cleaners' Xmas bonus
  8. Cottage kitchen
  9. New handrail for steps
  10. Fluorescent yellow markings for steps
  11. Saucepans, kitchen hand paper towel, rubbish bin
  12. Telephone
  13. Resignation of secretary
  14. Chairman's position on committee

Notice Of Management Meeting Thursday 20 November - posted 17 October 2014

There will be a General Management Meeting on Thursday 20th November at 8.00pm in the Reading Room. If you have any items for the agenda please forward to me or the chairman Bill England by Thursday 6th November. The agenda will then be issued to all representatives.

Many thanks
Barbara Whitlock - Secretary

Meeting Held To Vote For A New Vice-Chairman 7.8.14 - posted 11 August 2014

Bill England - Chairman
Richard Foster - Treasurer
Chris Thorpe - Village Café
Doreen England - Steward
Barbara Whitlock - Secretary
Representatives Present:
Jenny Saunders
Judy Cairns
David Brookhouse
Cec Harrold
Danny Moody
Wiggy Smith

Apologies: Barbara Buxton, Morag Underwood, Becky Lietelmayer

Two candidates stood for Vice Chairman of the Reading Room, Helmdon.
Cec Harrold
Morag Underwood.

Two postal votes were received. Voting slips were counted by Bill England, Chairman and Barbara Whitlock, Secretary in the presence of the representatives. The result was as follows.
Morag Underwood 5 votes
Cec Harrold 7 votes

We therefore have a new vice chairman, Mr Cec Harrold.

The meeting closed at 8.15pm.

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting Held On Thursday 19 June 2014 - posted 29 June 2014

Bill England – Chairman
Eddie Garner – Vice Chairman
Richard Foster – Treasurer
Chris Thorpe – Helmdon Café
Doreen England – Steward
Barbara Whitlock – Secretary

Jennifer Saunders
Becky Leitelmayer
Sue Lidgley
Judy Cairns
Danny Moody

  • The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.
  • Apologies:
    Morag Underwood
    David Brookhouse
    Wiggy Smith
    Viv Watson
  • Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 13th June 2013. These were signed as an accurate record of the meeting.
  • Matters arising from the minutes:
    • item 9 – Sue Lidgley pointed out that the 112 number does not work as advised. 999 does work.
    • Item 13 - Ivy growth: it was removed but has now grown back.
    • Item 15 – Heating in the Ladies/Disabled toilet: has been done.
  • Chairman's report: The Reading Room has been a very popular venue again this year, with very few evenings available for bookings. Daytime bookings are doing very well too. Mondays are booked for Art Group and Pilates and Fridays there is Cha Char Chimps, entertainment for the younger children. The rest of the week is taken up by Helmdon Café, Post Office and once a month the Church Lunches on Tuesday. In fact the only day that is comparatively free is Wednesday. Weekends are frequently taken up by christenings and children's parties.

General housekeeping has not been too bad but still some concern over the stacking of the chairs. It really should not need notices put up, except maybe for the casual bookings. I think the real reason more care is not being taken is people rushing to get away. It was pointed out to one person that it was dangerous the way they were being stacked and the reply was "you're being too fussy."

Financially we are doing alright but I will leave that to Richard.

At the beginning of the year, after I had my scare, I'm afraid I put my responsibilities on the back burner a little bit. I was pleasantly surprised to realise the Reading Room can almost run itself. I would like to thank you all for your concern and help during that period and I can assure you I am now running on maybe 3 of the 4 cylinders.

Once again I thank you for your continued support for the Reading Room and I have no doubt it will continue in the future.

  • Treasurer's Report: Last year I reported that the refurbishment had been completed and the Year End Balance had recovered to a healthy £14,623.

This year I am pleased to report that the receipts have held up well without the £973 windfall from the distribution of previous Carnival profits at £12,857 and payments were significantly lower by almost £2000 at £7,010. Resulting in an excess of receipts over payments of £5847 and what may be a record Year End Balance of £20,470.

Having completed the refurbishment of the hall it led me to ask if we were maintaining the cottage to the same high standard, as you will note from the accounts that the income from the cottage is almost half the total Receipts. However, Bill had already raised item 13 on the agenda so we will have an opportunity to discuss this.

I have prepared another forecast for the current year when I am confident that receipts should exceed payments again depending on the repairs and improvement required during the year.

Finally, I should mention the very valuable contributions from the 200 Club £1300 again and the Café £1700 last year. There is an Income and Expenditure Report prepared for the Café each calendar year which I have summarised on the back of the accounts but we currently do not consider the additional cost of auditing the Café account worthwhile.

The Village Café will be given a letter of thanks for their contribution.

  • Correspondence: A letter from Wiggy Smith has been received regarding the 'Ghost Hunting' in the Reading Room. Several local people are uneasy with this activity and Rev. Carole Peters has suggested blessing the Reading Room after these events have taken place. Sue Lidgley proposed and Judy Cairns seconded this motion and all agreed that this should happen.
  • Auditor: We are happy with the present auditor and will continue to use him. Sue Lidgley proposed and Judy Cairns seconded.
  • Insurance: We will stay with the same, reasonably priced insurers. Sue Lidgley proposed and Jenny Saunders seconded.
  • Extraction Unit: Health and Safety require that one is installed in the Reading Room kitchen. The cost will be between £350-£3000. It is still undecided on whether to have a wall or ceiling extractor installed. Eddie Garner thought that the smaller unit would be sufficient, over the cookers. Tom the Electrician will be the best judge and he will charge around £1000. Also required by Health and Safety is a fly screen for the back door. These can be bought cheaply from Homebase. Becky Leitelmayer suggested one made of chain which are used in restaurants and work very well indeed. These are permissible over fire doors.
  • Kitchen Decoration: The decorating cannot be done until the extraction fan is fitted. Quotes and colours will be decided beforehand. The Working Committee will then have a meeting to finalise arrangements.
  • Letting Fees: No change to be made to the rent. Judy Cairns proposed and Sue Lidgley seconded.
  • Cottage Damp and Secondary Double Glazing: Neil Buckley inspected the roof on 19th June. The flashing on the roof on the side needs to be lead flashing. At the moment it is concrete which is letting in water. There is rising damp in the kitchen. Neil Buckley said that the kitchen can be re-plastered with a silicone waterproof plaster (damp proof plaster). This can be used on interior and exterior walls. Rupert, the tenant, said that his kitchen work tops are bowing so these need to be replaced. A builder will be used to do the work on the cottage kitchen. There is no vent in the cottage utility room; an extractor needs to be put in there too. Judy Cairns proposed and Jenny seconded.

Neil Buckley said that secondary double glazing will make no improvement to the damp in the cottage. Bill England said that all the windows will be glazed at a cost of £490 for the lounge, £490 for the bedroom, £450 for the second bedroom, £360 for the kitchen and £270 for the larder. These prices were from Leadwise. Banbury Windows were more expensive. Sue Lidgley proposed that the job be started sooner rather than later. The leaded windows will be kept to for the overall look of the building.

The disabled toilet in the Reading Room would benefit from a double glazed window. It is very draughty and would also be much more secure. Leadwise quoted a price of £300 and Banbury Windows £360.

  • Hand rail and paint for Steps: A second rail is really needed so that there is a rail on both sides of the steps. Bill England will ask the builder when the cottage work is being done. The rails must be the same.

Paint for the edges of the steps will be bought from Wickes.

  • Any Other Business: Mike Barnes repaired the chair which had woodworm and had collapsed. A thank you note will be written to him .

Sue Lidgley reported that there are items missing again, from the kitchen. A cake stand, glasses and cutlery. Each club that has a cupboard needs to get together and go through the items they have. Doreen England and Sue Lidgley will organise this.

Becky Leitelmayer representing the Bridge Players pointed out that the blind over the window lets in too much light. This affects film shows and plays. Could a black out blind be purchased? This would not be visible if placed behind the louvre blind which is there at the moment. Need to get a price and see if it is possible to have one fixed in this way. When the kitchen renovation is done this matter will be discussed.

The meeting ended at 20.35.

General Management Committee 19th June 2014
The Election of Officers

Chairman – Sue Lidgley proposed Bill England and Judy Cairns seconded. All in favour.
Vice Chairman – Eddie Garner resigned.
Treasurer – Sue Lidgley proposed Richard Foster and Jenny Saunders seconded. All in favour.
Steward – Jenny Saunders proposed Doreen England and Sue Lidgley seconded. All in favour.

Agenda Of the Annual General Meeting To Be Held On Thursday 19 June 2014 - posted 29 May 2014

7.30 p.m. in the Reading Room.
All are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards.

The AGM will be followed by a short meeting (of the General Management Committee only) for the election of officers.


  • Chairman's welcome
  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 13th June 2013
  • Matters arising from the minutes
  • Chairman's annual report
  • Treasurer's annual report
  • Correspondence
  • Auditor
  • Insurance
  • Extraction Unit (kitchen)
  • Kitchen Decoration
  • Letting fees
  • Cottage Damp and Secondary Double Glazing
  • Hand rail for steps and paint for step edges

All additions to the agenda must be submitted to the secretary by Monday 9th June. Any item not on the agenda will not be resolved at this meeting, but will be an agenda item in the General Management Meeting held in November.

Minutes Of The Management Committee Meeting Held On Thursday 28 November 2013 - posted 07 December 2013

Present : Committee:
Bill England - Chairman
Eddie Garner – Vice Chairman
Richard Foster - Treasurer
Doreen England - Steward
Barbara Whitlock - Secretary

Jenny Saunders
Morag Underwood
Judy Cairns
Sue Lidgley
Jan Harrold
Joan Hadfield
Wiggy Smith

  • Apologies for Absence:
    David Brookhouse
    Danny Moody
    Chris Thorpe

The Minutes of the last AGM were signed as being a true and accurate account of the meeting.

Proposed Judy Cairns and seconded by Doreen England

  • Matters Arising

Item 6 – The inventory of the kitchen utensils was taken by Doreen England
Item 7 – Wiggy Smith will not have a key to the Reading Room
Item 8 – The roof in the gents toilet has been repaired

  • Chairman's Report

The Reading Room has gone very well again this year. Children's parties, Christenings etc are on the increase. Monday morning has seen two events at the same time, Art group in the committee room and Pilates in the main hall. This seem to be working very well and there is Cha Char Chimps on Friday morning. This is for babies and toddlers and according to reports is well attended. I was approached by Liz Hart to see if there was anywhere in the Reading Room we could put a computer. It is for the documentation for the HS2 Project and for public viewing. This was more or less forced on the Parish Council and has to be installed in a public building. We can put it in the new cupboard in the committee room and take it out for use as and when needed. Liz will be the point of contact for appointments and she will then liaise with the Reading Room Steward to see if it is convenient, so it will not inconvenience any function. If anyone wishes to comment on this I will give you the chance later in the meeting.

The non-slip mat has been put down in the kitchen and the ramp, and seems to be working ok. We have the luxury of the fixed projector which has been a boon, although some presenters prefer to bring their own, don't know why but there you are.

So all in all, a very successful year and all I can say now is thanks for your support. Without it the Reading Room would not function the way it does.

  • Treasurer's Report

At the end of the first half September 30th
Current account £9943
Reserve account £8087

Income at £6420 exceeded expenditure of £3300 by £3120 which was better than forecast, but year end will be dependant of repairs and improvements.

Last year improvements to the committee room, dishwasher, crockery, plus roof, windows and toilets £6000.

  • Booking Requests
  • The request from Sally Brookhouse has been made to host a ghost hunt in the Reading Room. All agreed this could go ahead. Sue Lidgley proposed and Morag Underwood seconded.
  • Caroline King is proposing a games morning on a Thursday. An entry fee would be charged to cover tea, coffee and biscuits. This morning will in no way compete with the village café. HYHO's will give £50 toward the cost of buying games. There is also a small sum of money available from the South Northants Council. Liz Hart or John Coatsworth will be contacted for more information on this grant. Caroline King will do all the advertising.

The idea was met with approval as it is suitable for keeping minds active and another social gathering in the village. The Chairman said there will be no hire charge but all profits would go to the Reading Room.

Sue Lidgley proposed and Eddie Garner seconded this idea.

  • General Housekeeping

The stacking of the chairs must be done correctly. The chairs are getting damaged through being incorrectly treated.

The dishwasher must be emptied and cleaned after each use. Each organisation that uses the dishwasher must check after use.

Wiggy Smith said that anti-bacterial hand wash is necessary to meet with Health and Safety regulations.

Bill England has applied for a Cash and Carry card to be used for the Reading Room supplies.

  • Cleaners' Christmas Bonus

£50 was suggested and Sue Lidgley proposed, Judy Cairns seconded.

  • Redecoration of the kitchen

The urn should be moved and Wiggy Smith suggested a shelf be installed above the fridge and the urn placed there. This will be looked at after the meeting.

The kitchen gets steamed up and an industrial vent in the ceiling would solve this. Prices will be requested from at least two professionals about this work. When the vent has been installed the kitchen will then be decorated white.

  • Fit a fly curtain to the back door

Health and Safety have requested that a fly screen or curtain be fitted to the back door to stop the invasion of flies and other flying insects into the kitchen. As it is a fire door a removable one will be fitted. This must be done to comply with Health and Safety regulations.

The meeting ended at 8.30pm.

The Management Committee Meeting To Be Held On Thursday 28 November 2013 - posted 14 November 2013

Members of the public welcome to observe


  1. Apologies for absence
  2. Minutes of the General Management Meeting held on 29th November 2012
  • Matters Arising.
  • Chairman's Report
  • Treasurer's Report
  • Booking Requests:-
    a: Request from Sally Brookhouse
    b: Proposal from Caroline King
  • General Housekeeping
  • Cleaner's Christmas Bonus
  • Re-decoration of Kitchen
  • Fit a fly curtain to the back door

If you would like to add to the agenda, please let Barbara Whitlock know by Tuesday 19th November

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on Thursday 13 June - posted 25 June 2013

Present: Bill England – Chairman
Eddie Garner – Vice Chairman
Richard Foster – Treasurer
Chris Thorpe – Village Café
Doreen England – Steward
Barbara Whitlock – Secretary

Judy Cairns
David Brookhouse
Jan Harrold
Joan Hadfield
Morag Underwood
Karin Smith
Sue Lidgley
Danny Moody
and member of the public, Cec Harrold

  • Chairman's welcome
  • Apologies for absence – Jenny Saunders
  • Minutes of the AGM held 5th July 2012 – Judy Cairns proposed they be signed as a true and accurate copy of the meeting, Wiggy Smith seconded. All agreed and the chairman signed the minutes.
  • Any other business arising from the minutes:
  • Jan Harrold referred to item 18, missing cutlery from the kitchen. This has been resolved and an inventory has been taken.
  • Is it worth paying for membership with ACRE for cheaper oil deals? Chairman Bill England replied, yes it is.
  • The plastic strip below the serving hatch: The reason it has not been fitted, was we had a report there was evidence of damp on the wall, and a Perspex strip to protect the wall from physical abuse would only make matters worse. It has since been realised this was not the case.

Chairman's Annual Report:

"Since the last AGM there have been a few additions to the Reading Room. The committee room has been redecorated and the floor sanded and sealed. The original lead glazed window which was in a bad state of repair has been replaced in the original style.

A new dishwasher has been installed in the kitchen and after a few weeks people got used to the new technology, read the instructions and now it is a labour saving device and a good asset for all who used it. Slip proof matting has been installed in the kitchen and a ramp and I have been assured it is very effective.

There was a leak in the gent's toilet ceiling and it was feared that the roof needed a lot of attention. But Neil Buckley surveyed the problem and found it was only minor and was soon rectified. He also informed us that the rest of the roof was not in any danger at this time and was satisfied that with a few minor repairs would last for quite a few years.

A new pull down screen has been donated by a local resident and installed and along with the static projector has already been used extensively, by the Helmdon Presents and other groups. We have received a donation by Sue Wallace in memory of Willy Watson for stage lighting and as you can see they have been installed. The Bridge Players paid for the actual lighting units and the Reading Room footed the cost of the electrical installation. It is for the use of the community and has already been effectively used by Helmdon Presents, Friends of the Church and of course the Bridge Players.

I would like to propose a letter of thanks to be sent to the 200 Club and the Helmdon Café for the sterling work they do in raising funds for the maintenance of this hall.

I would like to thank you all for the continued support you have given to the committee and myself throughout the past year."

Treasurer's annual report:

"I will start with a summary of the expenditure on the refurbishment and improvements to the Reading Room over the last three years. We have spent just over £30,000 with £20,000 raised from Grants and Fundraising and £10,000 from annual income.

Although I am sure we will never cease to invest in any improvements identified by the village organisations, I think we can consider the major refurbishment has been successfully completed. As agreed at the last AGM the fundraising bank account was closed and the balance transferred to the Reserve account with the annual 200 Club contribution and the final distribution of the Carnival profits, which restored the Reserve balance back to £8029.85, just above the pre-refurbishment level of £7509.

With a healthy current account balance of £6593.94 this gives us a yearend balance of £14,623.79, an excess of receipts over payments for the year of £3,746.

Income was within the £100 of the previous year and expenditure excluding improvements was £3000 lower due mainly to lower expenditure on repairs and oil.

Subject to unforeseen repairs I am confident that receipts should exceed payments in the current year but we are unlikely to match last year's savings on oil and will not have the benefit of the £973 windfall from the final distribution of the Carnival profits so we cannot afford to be complacent."

The Treasurer has forecast a budget for maintenance and has allowed for £4000 for repairs in the current forecast. Morag Underwood requested a copy and suggested that the forecast be published.

Morag Underwood enquired whether the lettings for parties etc. are going well. Doreen England replied that the lettings over the past three years have increased.

Jan Harrold pointed out that the fire extinguisher costs had increased. Richard replied that he would have to check the invoice for reasons as to why.

Wiggy Smith asked about the takings for the café and they have decreased due to no more grants.

The Guides payments have decreased but this is because they are late in paying the rent.

  • Correspondence: None of importance.
  • Telephone: Wiggy Smith would like the telephone re-instated. She finds it not very satisfactory to have to rely on a neighbour to be in to make an emergency call. The treasurer pointed out that it would cost £250 per annum to have the pay phone re-installed. Mr Harrold thought that we might end up in profit but that would not be possible. 999 is a free call but it would still be an added expense. It was mentioned at this point that even though no-one gets a signal on a mobile phone, you can dial 112 and this will find the nearest provider and you can make an emergency call. We wanted to try this out there and then but decided it would not be a good idea! Sue Lidgely suggested that a letter be sent to all organisations that use the Reading Room with this information and that large posters be placed around the hall. Wiggy Smith was very happy with this outcome.
  • Letting Fees: No need for a further increase in the cost of hiring the room.
  • Insurance: The buildings insurance needs to be increased in line with inflation. So the insurance for the flat will increase to £200,000. We use the Ecclesiastical Insurers through Lovatts in Brackley.
  • Auditor: All happy with the current auditor.
  • Ivy growth outside the Reading Room: Doreen England would like this ivy removed because it hides the notice board and also damages the walls. A contractor will be brought in to do the job properly. Morag Underwood proposed and Jan Harrold seconded the motion. All agreed.
  • Conditions of Use: 'Serving of drinks must be kept to rear of the hall, as this is easier to keep clean.' Doreen England said this is not possible with the café, Women's Fellowship, WI, lunches and Film Club. This condition of use should be deleted. Wiggy Smith proposed that the item be deleted and Jan Harrold seconded it, all were in agreement.

Item 6 of the conditions of use 'at the end of each session, to empty the fridge.' Eddie Garner suggested re-phrasing this to say 'leave in a tidy condition.' Sue Lidgley said that not all groups do this. Bill England said that the Working Committee will update the Conditions of Use.

Morag Underwood asked why there are no recycling bins at the Reading Room. Richard Foster said it was because the room was treated as a business and not a household with waste.

  • Heating in Ladies/disabled toilet: Bill England said that it would not be practical to have a heater in the toilet. It would be better to add a radiator to the main heating system for the toilet. The window is now fixed and there should be no draughts. Eddie Garner proposed that we get a quote to have the radiator added and Wiggy Smith seconded. All in favour.
  • Marketing of the Reading Room and designation of officers: Morag Underwood asked if an independent website could be set up for the Reading Room as the Helmdon website gives minimal information about it. The Reading Room could be used more in the day time with more marketing. Bill England said that it could be promoted more through the Helmdon website and Danny Moody will put on any details that the working committee give him. Cec Harrold said that a neighbouring village hall is a money spinner and they have users from all over the country. To increase the lettings it will have to be people not local to Helmdon. Morag Underwood suggested that a) not everyone knows about the room and b) it would be ideal for business away days and seminars. Richard at the Bell could provide light lunches too. All were in agreement and Barbara Whitlock said that she would consider taking on the marketing of the Reading Room.
  • Equipment: All groups should be trained in the use of the new equipment. There could also be a designated person to check the fire alarms, emergency lighting and log when checked. Such a person would also make a list of the technical and electrical items that need to be kept in working order. Jan Harrold suggested Richard Farquarson but Bill England said that the Working Committee would nominate someone.
  • Agreement of ongoing maintenance: Morag Underwood found a loose window which Bill England will investigate. Wiggy Smith said that a yearly check of the whole building be done as part of the ongoing maintenance.

Jan Harrold said that the cleaner Ruby cannot reach the high places and perhaps a professional cleaner twice a year would be worth getting in to give a thorough clean. The working committee will make a decision on this.

The kitchen cupboard locks need some maintenance. It will be easier to have new locks put in the cupboards.

A chair in the committee room, known as Harold's chair, has been broken. The chair fell apart and was riddled with woodworm. The woodworm was dead and the chair in not repairable.

Jan Harrold has some curtaining left over and would like to make a cushion for the pew which is in the committee room. This is a good idea and was gratefully accepted.

Morag Underwood thanked the Chairman for his work during the past year.

The meeting closed at 20.40


  • Chairman – Judy Cairns proposed Bill England and Wiggy Smith seconded, all in favour
  • Vice Chairman – Jan Harrold proposed Eddie Garner and Judy Cairns seconded, all in favour
  • Treasurer – Sue Lidgley proposed Richard Foster and Morag seconded all in favour
  • Steward – Sue Lidgley proposed Doreen England and Morag Underwood seconded, all in favour

Meeting closed at 20.45

Reading Room AGM on Thursday 13 June - posted 17 May and revision posted 11 June 2013


The Annual General Meeting will take place on the above date. All are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards.

The AGM will be followed by a short meeting (of the General Management Committee only) for the election of officers.

  • Chairman's welcome
  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 23rd June 2011
  • Matters arising from the minutes
  • Chairman's annual report
  • Treasurer's annual report
  • Correspondence
  • Telephone
  • Letting fees
  • Insurance
  • Auditor
  • Ivy growth on outside wall
  • Conditions of use
  • Heating in Ladies toilet (disabled)
  • Marketing of RR and designation of officers.
  • Equipment
  • Agreement of ongoing maintenance

News Archive 2010-2012

Minutes Of Reading Room Management Committee 29/11/12 - posted 10 December 2012

1. Apologies
B.Whitlock, S.Lidgley, D.Moody, J.Harrold

2. Minutes of General Meeting 24/11/12
The minutes were agreed as a true record of the meeting and signed off

3. Matters arising
Item 8. It was agreed to review at AGM

4. Chairman's report
See attached

5. Treasurers report
Reserve account £8,029
Current account £6,400
The Committee room has been paid from general funds
Dishwasher was paid from Current account
Crockery and donations have been paid for from donations
Private lettings are up from previous year

6. Reading Room kitchen ware.
New kitchenware has been purchased by the Reading Room.

It was agreed to keep some of the old crockery back to give 80 sets, this still leaves a surplus of 15 dinner plates, 12 pudding bowls, 23 bread plates. These are available to village organisations on a first come first served basis. Requests to Steward .

It was agreed to produce an inventory of Reading Room crockery and top review annually.

7. Keys
Wiggy Smith asked for an additional key to allow her to enter as and when she chooses in or to collect lists and prepare for meetings etc. The meeting felt that this was not practical although it was agreed to have a second point of collection for Wiggy only.

8. AOB
- A Non slip mat was requested for the kitchen. This was hoped to be available by Nov 30th12. Prices are to be obtained for a non slip floor.

- The roof in the gents toilet is leaking and it was thought that the entire roof may have the same problem. The roof has to be inspected to confirm the extent of the damage. Dependant of the findings costs are to be obtained.

- Sue Wallace has offered to pay for lighting rails for use by Bridge players and other groups ( in memory of her brother, Richard Watson).

The Bridge players will buy the lights.

Electric supply is required and prices are to be obtained, it is not certain who will pay for this work. A further meeting of the working committee to be held w/c 15/12/12 to agree the way forward to allow the order for the rails to be placed before the end of the year.

- A manual pull down screen has been priced at £122.00 + V.A.T. and the meeting agreed to go ahead with the purchase.

The meeting was closed at 9.30.

General Management Report 29/11/12 - posted 10 December 2012

Since the last Management meeting, there has been a few more improvements to The Reading Room. The committee room has been redecorated, along with a new lead glazed window, the floor has been sanded and sealed. I think you all agree it has made a difference, and is a pleasure to be in there.

A dishwasher has been installed in the kitchen, and is used regularly, by the cafe and church lunches. It caused a few problems to start with, but now people have read the user manual and understand the controls, I think most of you all feel that it is an asset, and saves a lot of time, at the end of the session.

The Cafe on Tuesdays is working very well, and the revenue from that, keeps flowing in to the Reading Room funds. Again a big thanks to all the ladies who give up their time to keep this very valuable asset functioning.

The hall is a very popular venue for local organisations, and also for people outside of the parish, but where some villagers get involved. Christenings, and children's parties, and a few private parties, including weddings bring in funds, I am certain, it is because the building is now a pleasant place to be. Quite often people who have not used the RR for a function before, have been really surprised at the facilities there are available.

We have had some donations, Helmdon Hurlers £100, Hyos £150, and of course The Health Walkers put their bit in as and when they can.

General housekeeping has been pretty good, although there has been a few minor problems, but nothing serious. One of the big issues is the stacking of the chairs, and in fact there has been an accident, whereby an elderly gentleman, picked a stack up on the trolley, but unfortunately lifted them the wrong way round and the stack collapsed, cutting his hand rather badly. Stacking them incorrectly causes damage to the upholstery, and knocks the rubber buffers and feet from the frames. I would ask you all to pay attention when clearing away, and try to ensure the legs slide into the legs on the chair below correctly.

So all in all another successful year, and at this point I would like to thank everybody for your continued support.

Bill England
Reading Room

Minutes Of The Annual General Meeting - posted 18 July 2012, amended 20 July

Held on Thursday 5th July 2012 In the Reading Room at 7.30 pm

Present: Committee
Bill England
Richard Foster
Chris Thorpe
Doreen England
Barbara Whitlock

Danny Moody
Morag Underwood
Sue Lidgley
Joan Hadfield
Judy Cairns
Leslie Kinghorn
Jenny Saunders
Wiggy Smith

3 members of the public

Chairman's welcome

Apologies for absence:
Audrey Forgham, Eddie Garner, Viv Watson, Jan Harrold.

Minutes of the A.G.M meeting held on 23RD June 2011.
Lesley proposed and Judy seconded that they be signed as a true and accurate copy of the meeting

Matters arising from the minutes – none

Chairman's annual report:

"The last year has seen an increase in bookings. There have been two wedding receptions, plus private parties, children's parties, christenings and of course village organisations having their usual functions. New bookings are looking healthy, with karate on Friday evenings, involving local residents, an organisation called Total Vocal have booked for seven weeks on Sundays, to rehearse for their concert in Milton Keynes. Again local talent are involved. A company from Luton has booked Sunday 15th July to exhibit their furniture.

The Village Café seems to be going from strength to strength and is a valuable source of income for the Reading Room. I would like to thank everyone concerned with the café for their dedication and hard work, and of course the customers, young and older, who come along for their cuppa, slice of cake and a good chinwag.

The 200 Club and the participants have also got to be congratulated for their donations. These are used for the maintenance and general everyday expenditure.

Finances will be discussed after Richard's report.

General housekeeping has been good, with only a few exceptions, which have been dealt with. At this point I would like to thank Ruby for keeping the hall up to scratch, it cannot be easy, especially after the amount of rain we have had.

So all in all, I think we can be proud of the fact that we have a village hall that some villages would give their eye teeth for. And it is all down to the support you give to the committee.

Thank you"

Treasurer's annual report:

"In the last Treasurer's Report I warned that the year end balance £13,471 was slightly misleading as the decorations and sound system had been completed and enjoyed but the cost of £6500 had not left the bank accounts by the year end.

Now in 2012 with all the major items completed and paid for, the year end balance of £10,877 gives a fair picture and is the result of a good year for the Reading Room finances.

In 2010/11 receipts covered payments whereas in 2011/12 receipts exceeded payments by almost £3000 despite losing £1550 from The Acorns, primarily as a result of the following increases in contributions.

Café + £1600, 200 Club + £1000, Private Hire + £600, Cottage rent + £300

Plus action to control costs even after the unexpected purchase of a new boiler.

Oil - £1000, Insurance - £500, Electric - £250, Water - £100

The Fundraising Committee generated the drive to raise £25,000 enabling the majority of the planned refurbishment to be completed between 2009 2011, however a third "Fund raising" bank account has complicated the production of the annual accounts without any major benefit, so the Working Committee made the decision to close the "Fund Raising" bank account and transferred the balance to the reserve account. Today the reserve account balance is £5,756 and further improvements will be paid for from the current account and appear in the annual accounts under the heading of Repairs, Maintenance and Improvements.

I have been warned not to expect quite the same contribution from the café in the current year due to one-off grants in 2011/12, but with the continued improvements in private hire, a full year of the increased cottage rent and no increase in repairs and maintenance we should be able to transfer a further £1300 in reserves (agenda item 14) and have £2000 available for further improvements to the Reading Room facilities during 2012/13.

£700 refund received from Butler Fuels. Re-negotiated insurance. Water and electricity consumption is down.

Mr Harrold asked for clarification of the reconciled cheques, could be made clearer on the accounts report.

Mr Moody queried the fact that more money appears to have gone out but had more in, is the account surplus or deficit? The explanation was that we had spent money before we had received it into the bank.


A thank you letter has been received from Sulgrave PCC for the cushion pads that we donated to Sulgrave Church.

A letter from John Coatsworth requesting use of the Reading Room for one hour was received. The Chairman said this would be dealt with under item 8

The renewal application for Northamptonshire Acre, was discussed.
Peter Burns pointed out that they are invaluable for support and advice, for village halls. It was agreed to renew membership.

Letting fees:

No increases for the hiring of the Reading Room. Mr Harrold proposed the motion and Morag Underwood seconded it. Motion carried. Funerals for anyone who Resided in the area of benefit, would be free of charge. Lesley Kinghorn proposed the motion and Wiggy Smith seconded. The motion was carried. Mrs Underwood said we need to be flexible as a community with regard to hiring fees. In view of Mr Coatsworth's letter, it was proposed by Judy Cairns and seconded by Lesley Kinghorn to allow residents in the area of benefit to hire the room for 1 hour, at a cost of £5 but any time over the hour would be charged at normal price. This would be at the discretion of the steward. Motion carried.

Update of conditions of Use:

This has not been done since 2007. Added to the conditions of use is item:

6: If you require the use of the loop/pa system please tell the steward at time of booking. A set of instructions is available in the pa cupboard.

7. Please leave the Reading Room as you would wish to find it and report any damage.

7A: The piano MUST NOT be moved unless by prior agreement with the steward/chairman. Moving it can upset the tuning.

8: The chairs should be stacked in the correct manner. 8 high and make sure the legs interlock with the chair below. Failure to do this makes the stack unstable and can damage the rubber buffers on the legs. It is easier to stack them as you collect them, then use the trolley, by placing it under the front of the stack. Then gently pull the backrest of the top chair forward. Transport the stack to the back of the building.

9. Please do not use any Cellotape / Blue tac / Drawing pins etc. to fix posters / decorations to the walls or woodwork.

13. Please do not put disposable nappies in the bins, take them home with you.

13A. Please ensure that the toilets are left in a clean and hygienic state.

19. The keys must be returned to the steward and must not be passed on to any other organisation unless agreed by the steward. Organisations using the Reading Room must not allow other groups to use the building, unless by prior arrangement with The Working Committee.

The Bridge Players use the Reading Room as a theatre and at times need to move the piano. It was agreed to have the annual tuning, after The Bridge Players performance.


We are happy with the insurers and will be staying with them.


Some found the layout of the account report confusing but Richard pointed out that it kept the cost down to have it this way.

Committee Room.

Two quotes have been received from local businesses to do the work of refurbishing the toilets, hall and committee room.

a) J Brackenborough
Toilets £375.00
Hallway £375.00
Committee Room £395.00

b) Stuart Waldron
Toilets and hallway £875.00
C/ room £930.00
Window £120.00

There were no more quotes so Danny Moody proposed we use J Brackenborough, Morag Underwood seconded and the motion was carried.

Fundraising account:

Closed. The money is in the reserve account along with the 200 club money. All present were agreed on this action.

Transfers from current account to reserve account:

All present agreed.

Heating Oil Suppliers:

It was discussed to subscribe to Northamptonshire Acre Oil Syndicate, at a cost of £30 p.a. It was suggested this could save funds on the heating costs. Wiggy Smith proposed we join, Leslie seconded the motion and all were agreed, the motion carried.

Perspex strip for wall protection:

Cost £76 for a 2 x 1 metre strip under the counter of the post office. Sue Lidgley said that damp had been recorded by Neil Buckley and Perspex would be a bad idea as it would not let the wall breathe. Painting would be better. The report mentioned cannot be found and Chris Thorpe proposed we go ahead and place the protective Perspex.

Minor Repairs Outstanding

a) Lead Glazed window: a quote to replace is £320, to repair would cost £60 but would be a temporary measure. Bill England can get the window welded to keep the cost down if necessary. It is not an outside window and a glazier has seen it. General opinion was to get the window properly fixed. Jenny Saunders proposed, Judy Cairns seconded the motion.

b) Roof Tiles: these have been replaced and most of the guttering. The overflow from the roof needs new guttering and posts to attach.

c) Use of the cupboard in the hallway: Sue Lidgley suggested using it for the toys from the café. That would remove the toys from the committee room. All were in favour of this idea.

18. Tuesday Lunches; Missing cutlery:

It has been noted that most of the cutlery has gone missing from the kitchen drawer. Sue Lidgley and Jenny Saunders have provided lots of cutlery in the past. There are also plates and a tray missing. Wiggy Smith will do a stock take and Jenny Saunders asked that groups should check their individual cupboards to see if any missing items are there.

The fridge needs to be moved bit before that happens the electric needs to be altered for its new position in the kitchen.

Lighting for the Bridge Players.

Morag Underwood would like to install spot lights on a bar, to be attached to the beam on the Reading Room ceiling. They would need a control box. As they are large items caution needs to be used on where to put the control box. The items will be purchased by the Bridge Players and will be bought as and when they have the funds. There were no objections but further information is needed about these items.

Village Café:

Celia Terry has asked that parents should control their children as there is an accident waiting to happen with pots of hot tea and coffee coming in and out of the kitchen. Also, to ask parents not to allow children past the shuttered door, unless the parent has business with The Post Office. A notice to this effect to be placed in view, while cafe' is in progress.

Bridge Players:

The Bridge Players need the Reading Room for a week before a performance. This is to be able to put up their props and scenery for dress rehearsals. Morag Underwood asked that the regular groups may be able to co-operate with this time. It was suggested the groups could cancel for the week but that was a unanimous no from all present. Bill England suggested that groups liaise with the Steward. Chris Thorpe suggested that Morag Underwood have a diary so the Bridge Players can know what is going on in that particular week.


It has been decided by the committee that a dishwasher be installed for the use of everyone, in the kitchen. One unit will have to be removed and the middle island also moved slightly. The cost of the commercial dishwasher is between £1200.00 and £1300 plus VAT. Wiggy Smith proposed and Leslie seconded the motion to purchase the dishwasher. The motion was carried.

Meeting ended at 21.35.


Held in the Reading Room on 5th July 2012 at 21.35


Richard Foster proposed Bill England and Leslie Kinghorn seconded

Danny Moody proposed Eddie Garner and Morag Underwood seconded

Jenny Saunders proposed and Sue Lidgley seconded

Lesley Kinghorn proposed and Jenny Saunders seconded

The Chairman thanked all for attending and closed the meeting. The Steward and Secretary were presented with bouquets of flowers by Judy Cairns and Sue Lidgley in thanks for the committee's hard work.

The meeting closed at 21.40

Agenda For Annual General Meeting - posted 26 June 2012

Meeting to be held on Thursday 5th July 2012 at 7.30pm in the Reading Room

The Annual General Meeting will take place on the above date. All are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards. If you want to add anything to the Agenda or have any queries please call either Bill England or Barbara Whitlock.

The AGM will be followed by a short meeting (of the General Management Committee only) for the election of officers.


  • Chairman's welcome
  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 23rd June 2011
  • Matters arising from the minutes
  • Chairman's annual report
  • Treasurer's annual report
  • Correspondence
  • Letting fees
  • Update conditions of use. This has not been done since 2007.
    • Key for P.A. system
    • When hiring the Reading Room let the steward know if the PA system will be required.
    • Chairs stacks to be 8 high rather than 5 high

New clause "Please leave as you would wish to find and report any damage.

  • Insurance
  • Auditor
  • Committee Room – 4 quotes for decoration
  • Fundraising a/c
  • Transfers from current account to reserve account
  • Heating oil suppliers
  • The placement of Perspex under the serving hatch is this area is becoming marked and damaged.
  • Minor repairs outstanding:
    • Lead glazed window
    • Roof tiles
    • Guttering
  • Sue Lidgley – outside railing needs to be thinner
  • Tuesday Lunches - Wiggy Smith. Who is responsible for the replacement of cutlery, crockery and utensils in the kitchen? There is a need for new utensils.
  • Hinges on screen in the porch
      • Use of the cupboard in the porch
      • Bolt inside porch
      • Where is the Money thermometer
      • Wood at the end of the hall to protect wall from the tables and chairs
Bill England reading out Pat's letter

Bill England reading out Pat's letter

A Tribute To Harold Seckington - posted 14 May 2012

Bill England, chairman of the Reading Room, unveiled a plaque to Harold Seckington at the recent Annual Parish Meeting. Harold worked tirelessly for the Reading Room for many years as steward and committee member, and this was a tribute to him.

Bill read out a letter from Harold's daughter Pat Woodhams, in which she asked that all who suggested and agreed to a plaque being placed in the Reading Room in her Dad's memory should be thanked. She said it was a kind thought and much appreciated. Pat said that her Dad was always happy to do things for the village, and that apart from his ten years army service he never lived, or wanted, to be anywhere else than Helmdon. Although in the last few years of his life he was unable to be an active committee member he was still very interested in what was happening. Pat said that he would have been very pleased to see how nice the Reading room looks now and that he would have been very pleased to know the ceiling is back!

Minutes of Informal Meeting To Discuss Renovation of Committee Room, 20th January - posted 06 February 2012

Present committee members
Chairman – Mr Bill England
Vice Chairman – Mr Eddie Garner
Treasurer – Mr Richard Foster
Steward – Mrs Doreen England
Village Cafe – Mr Chris Thorpe
Secretary – Mrs Barbara Whitlock

Mrs Joan Hadfield, Mrs Sue Lidgley, Mr Danny Moody, Mrs Jan Harrold, Mrs Judy Cairns, Mrs Wiggy Smith

  • All quotes received for cushion flooring advised that to use this material would be inadvisable due to sweating. The best solution therefore is to bring the wooden floor up to standard with sanding and coats of lacquer.
  • At this point the chairman and the steward declared an interest and left the room while the quotes were discussed.
  • Mills Carpentry quoted £467.50 to sand and 3 coats of industrial strength lacquer. Price was without VAT.
  • K.B.C. Also quoted £770.60. The decision was made to go with Mills Carpentry but to find out which company did the same work at Whitfield village hall. Providing it was not Mills we will go with them. Mrs. Lidgley will find out as the results were allegedly not up to standard. Chris Thorpe proposed we give Mills Carpentry the work, Richard Foster seconded the motion and all were in favor.
  • We would also like a guarantee for the work and the missing piece of skirting replaced.
  • The curtains are at the moment being made and are going to be cheaper than expected.
  • The decoration of the room will need to take place first. The room will need to be stripped, ceiling painted and some plastering on the walls to tidy it up. Eddie Garner will organize a working party to do the work plus the skirting and painting. The work will begin on 29th January and be finished by the second week of February. Eddie will get the paint.
  • The hearth is to be left. There is nice marble under the carpet in front of the hearth which will be visible when the floor is done.
  • Peter Payne will be painting the coat rack and replace the existing hangers. The cupboard is to go.
  • The discarded cushions are going to be put on a table with a 'HELP YOURSELF' sign. They cannot be sold as there is no proof of them being fire retardent

The meeting closed at 20.10

Agenda For Annual General Management Meeting - posted 16 November

General Management Meeting to be held
On Thursday 24th November 2011
At 7.30pm in the Reading Room


  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the General Management Meeting held on 25th November 2010
  • Minutes of the Extra Ordinary Meeting held on 10th February 2011
  • Matters arising
  • Chairman's report
  • Treasurer's report
  • Fundraising report
  • Refurbishment:
  • Committee room
  • Front porch
  • Terms of reference: Danny Moody
  • Confirmation of Management Committee Members
  • Unpaid invoices
  • Cleaner

Annual General Management Meeting - posted 6 November 2011

The Annual General Management Meeting of the Reading Room will take place on Thursday, 24th November. It will be held in the Reading Room at 7.30pm.

Any items you wish to add to the agenda, please call Bill England (Chairman) or myself Barbara (Secretary).

The agenda for the meeting will follow shortly.

New Boiler For Reading Room - posted 6 November 2011

Minutes of extraordinary meeting held on October 25th 2011 in the Reading Room

Present. Bill England, Richard Foster, Doreen England, Chris Thorpe, Eddie Garner, Wiggy Smith, Jan Harrold, Judy Cairns.

1.Chairman's welcome.
The Chairman welcomed all to the meeting at 19.40

2. Apologies.
Sue Lidgley, Barbara Whitlock, Jenny Saunders.

3. Bill England outlined the problems with the existing boiler system, namely the problems with the flue which cannot be replaced.

The option to have a new flue made has been looked into and is not feasible. This leaves the only option to have a new boiler.

This was proposed by Wiggy Smith and seconded by Judy Cairns. All were in favour.

3a. 5 people have been asked to provide quotations for the work although only 3 have replied.

The quotations were read in detail to the meeting and the prices quoted are:-
1. Banbury Boiler services £2,598.64
2. On Tap £2,427.27
3. Copperstones £2,700.00

All proposals were discussed and it was felt that because of the detail and selection of the most efficient boiler that the work would be offered to Banbury Boiler services. This was proposed by Judy Cairns and seconded by Wiggy Smith. All were in favour although we should try to have the price reduced or a free service to the cottage boiler.

The funding of the work will come from the general account partly funded by the £700.00 rebate from Total Butler and the money from the Café.

The boiler to be installed as soon as possible.

The meeting closed at 20.20

The new boiler will be installed on Thursday 10th November by Banbury Boiler Services.

Minutes of AGM - posted 26 September 2011

Held on 23rd June 2011 qt 7.30 pm in the Reading Room

Present: Committee Members
Mr England Chairman
Mr Garner Vice Chairman
Mr Foster Treasurer
Mrs England Steward
Mrs Whitlock Secretary

General Management Committee
Mrs Saunders - Helmdon Church P.C.C.
Mrs Cairns - Helmdon Women's Club
Mrs Watson - Village Café
Mr Foster - Footpaths Group
Mrs Kinghorn - Tuesday Lunches
Mrs Lidgley- Friends of Helmdon Churchyard
Mrs Harrold - Helmdon W.E.A.
Mrs Hadfield - Helmdon Fellowship
Mr Garner - RR Fundraising Committee

Chairman's welcome

The chairman welcomed all those present.

Apologies for Absence

Mr Moody, Mrs Sue Barsby, East Midlands Lottery Fund

Minutes of the AGM held on 13th May 2010

These were signed as being a true and accurate account of the meeting.

Matters Arising from the Minutes

There was a short discussion between Mrs Harrold, Mr Burns and the treasurer, Mr Foster on money given for grants and donations. Mr Foster cleared up the confusion.

Chairman's Welcome

"This year has been a very good one for the Reading Room. The refurbishment is 99% completed. The only thing left to do is to tidy up the AV system cables, which hopefully I will sort out this weekend. Two years ago it was only a pipedream, but despite the cynics among us, with a lot of hard work and dedication, from lots of people, we've cracked it.

With the departure of the Acorns, it looked as if we would be struggling financially, but two new money making ventures were formed. They are of course The New Village Café and the 200 Club. These combined donations almost make up for the loss of revenue. I would like to thank all involved for their efforts.

The defunct Sadia water heater has been replaced with the more conventional Fortic tank. We have had complaints that the water in the kitchens is not hot enough, I will be looking at the problem at the weekend.

A grant of over £900 for two new cookers has been gifted to us from Councillor Andrew Grants fund. Wiggy and Doreen have found suitable ones, this had to be sorted out before the grant was released and there was a very narrow window to achieve this, so swift action was needed.

I was a bit concerned about damage in the hall, a power socket has been broken and was left in a very dangerous state, but the worst crime was the organisation who caused it did not report it. I would advise all organisations to be vigilant and if they do have an accident, something broken, marks on walls or anything else, please report it to the steward. It is not the end of the world and can be overcome.

The financial report will be next on the agenda.

I would just like to thank you all for your support and thank you for dealing with the fundraising so magnificently."

Treasurer's Annual Report

Mr Foster handed out the latest report from the auditor to everyone present. The receipts and payments are almost equal. There were unexpected expenses with some repairs and the report is not a true and accurate picture of the accounts. The blinds still had to be paid for and there was a very large electricity bill and water bill which the treasurer managed to have reduced by a substantial amount.

Mrs Watson pointed out that the fire extinguishers were very costly, but that is the cost of this equipment which had to be bought.

It was suggested that more promotion/advertising is needed for the Reading Room for parties and functions.


Reminders, renewals and the last report for the Lottery Fund which the Chairman has dealt with.

Letting Fees

It was agreed that it is time to increase the hiring of the Reading Room.

The result after discussion for village organisations was:
Hall, extension and kitchen to stay at £15
Committee room to stay at £2-50p
Children's tea parties and Christenings from £25 to £30
Private functions previously £75 should now be £100

Mr England proposed the motion and Caroline King seconded. All were in favour so the motion was carried.

Organisations from outside the village:
Hall, extension and kitchen from £20 to £30
Committee room from £5.00 to £10

Mrs Watson proposed, Mrs Cairns seconded, all were in agreement and the motion was carried.

Any bookings already taken will be exempt from the price increase.

The cottage rent has remained the same for 4 years and it was decided that it was time to increase the rent. When the tenancy is due for renewal notice will be given of the increase. Mr Garner suggested an increase every six months to bring it in line with today's prices. He said that in the first instance, a sum of £500 per month. Mrs Lidgley proposed this motion, Mr Garner seconded it and the motion was carried with all in agreement.

Mrs England asked for clarification on the hiring of tables and chairs. There is no charge for charities and Helmdon organisations. Private hiring is £2.00 per table and 50p for the old chairs. The new Reading Room chairs are not available for hire.


The insurance does not cover any incidents through outside signage which is not on Reading Room property.

The Working Committee will shop around for a different, cheaper insurance company, to be decided on before renewal in January.


The treasurer said that he does a very good job and to keep the same auditor.

Refurbishment project update

Everyone, local and not local, are very impressed with the refurbishment. The plaque showing it was lottery funded is now very visible on entering through the front door.

Mrs Lidgley suggested not drawing the curtains during the summer months so as to ease the risk of damaging the draw chords.
Mr England replied that for security reasons they must be drawn and the chords have now been made more secure.

The screen is badly in need of repair. This will be done by Mr England.

Committee Room Refurbishment

Mrs Lidgley has commented on how dowdy the room and flooring is. She suggested that a working bee could do the job of taking up the carpet, remove the old hearth and redecorate. This could be done over a weekend. To be done the summer months would take up little time. Basic decorating for the present and the removal of the hearth was proposed by Mrs Lidgley and Mrs England seconded but the motion was not carried. It would cost approximately £400 for new cushion floor and curtains the same design as in the main hall. Mr Garner proposed that the funds be raised first after getting quotes for laying cushion floor and hanging curtains, Mrs Hadfield seconded and the motion was carried with most present agreeing.

Cleaning of Inscription

Mrs Forgham asked about having the inscription cleaned, it was last done by window cleaners. Mr Burns said that the stone mason company that cleaned the war memorial was expensive but as they are specialised, stone masons should do the job. Mr England proposed that two or three quotes be obtained before deciding how to have it cleaned. Mrs Cairns seconded the proposal and the motion was carried as all in favour.

Gift Aid

Gift aid is only claimable on a private donation and not a group donation which could be fraudulent. We have had cheques from individuals on behalf of a group which have not been processed because of this reason. This point was made clear to all.

Discuss 'Terms of Reference' – Mr Moody

As Mr Moody has not present this will be carried forward to the next meeting.

Harold Seckington's plaque

The preferred material is only available in small sizes, too small to do justice to the work that Mr Seckington contributed to the village. However, Dean Radcliffe has put up a dado rail with a large square set in the middle, on the front wall under the window. This is in nice dark wood. It was agreed that a plaque made to fit onto this square would be made in brass and would look very effective.

Reading Room Keys

Any key holders must not give their keys to a third party. A new form will be given to all key holders which must be signed. The old forms will be made redundant as they are now out of date. This effectively means that they must not be used for any other purpose than what is stated on the form.

Key holders will be named for insurance purposes and also what the keys will be used for. Key holder forms will be updated.

Risk Assessment

The Reading Room has been assessed for risk/safety but the report had not been received at the time of the AGM. The urn in the kitchen must be chained to the wall for safety reasons. The chairman apologised for the lack of a report.


The café does not pay a hire charge but is an individual group supporting the Reading Room. Mrs Watson asked if the café could become a sub group of the Reading Room as the sole purpose of the café is to fundraise for the Reading Room. They would then be covered by the insurance. They have no accounts and will give all cash over to the Reading Room treasurer as normal. Mr Foster said that the Café would need a representative on the Working Committee, in that case. Mr Garner proposed they become a sub group of the Reading Room and Lesley Kinghorn seconded. The motion was carried.


As there are no handles on the urn it cannot be moved. It also does not fit in anywhere safely in the kitchen and is therefore a danger when being used. Mr England said that there is another urn and as long as it will fit under a cupboard, that could possibly be used instead.

The Chairman thanked all attending and closed the meeting. The steward, secretary and chairman were then presented with gifts by Mrs Lidgley and Mrs Cairns in thanks for their work. They were delighted and surprised and the gifts were much appreciated.

Meeting closed at 20.45


Mrs Cairns proposed Mr England and Mrs Lidgley seconded.

Mrs Kinghorn proposed Mr Garner and Mrs Cairns seconded.

Mrs Harrold proposed Mr Foster and Mrs Cairns seconded.

Mrs J Cairns proposed Mrs England and Mrs Lidgley seconded.

The meeting closed at 20.55

Amended AGM Agenda - posted 17 June 2011

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING to be held on Thursday 23rd June at 7.30 p.m. in the Reading Room

The Annual General Meeting of the Reading Room will take place on the above date. All are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards. If you want to add anything to the Agenda or have any queries, please call either Bill England or Barbara Whitlock before Thursday 16th June

The AGM will be followed by a short meeting of the General Management Committee only for the election of officers.


  • Chairman's welcome
  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 13th May 2010
  • Matters arising from the minutes
  • Chairman's annual report
  • Treasurer's Annual Report
  • Correspondence
  • Letting Fees
  • Insurance:
    • Outside advertising signage
    • Look for an alternative insurance company
  • Auditor
  • Refurbishment project update

a. Committee Room – Mrs S Lidgley

b. Cleaning of Inscription – Mrs A Forgham

  • Gift Aid
  • Discuss 'Terms of Reference' - Mr D Moody
  • Harold Seckington's plaque
  • Reading Room Keys
  • Risk Assessment Report

Notice To Reading Room Representatives Re The Forthcoming General Management Meeting on 25 November - posted 6 November 2010

To All Representatives

You are invited to the General Management Meeting to be held on 25th November at 7.30p.m. in the Reading Room.

If you have any items for the agenda please call Bill England or Barbara Whitlock. Details of the agenda will sent to you shortly.

Reading Room Ceiling Gets Go Ahead - posted 2 October 2010

At a meeting of the Reading Room Management Committee (RRMC) held on Thursday 30 September 2010 it was agreed to reinstate a suspended ceiling in the Reading Room. The RRMC consulted user groups and residents over the summer on whether they wished to see the original ceiling left open and exposed or whether a new suspended ceiling should be installed to replace the one removed previously. The RRMC's report recommended "That the quote from Mezzstore of £1,988 + VAT for a suspended ceiling for the Reading Room be accepted. The work to be carried out as soon as can be arranged." This recommendation was unanimously endorsed.

Also at the same meeting it was agreed to proceed with the purchase of 80 new chairs (£3,264) and new sliding doors (£1,493) to divide the main hall from the extension.

A small working group has been established to look at audio-visual equipment for the Reading Room and a committee has been established to run a 200 Club in conjunction with the Friends of St Mary Magdalene parish Church, with proceeds split equally towards the upkeep of Helmdon's two most important public buildings.

Work on the ceiling and sliding doors will be carried out as soon as can be arranged with the contractors and the new chairs are expected in 4 to 6 weeks. Hopefully by Christmas the Reading Room should be looking quite different!

New Procedure For Reading Room Bookings - posted 6 September 2010

click to procedure [now obsolete] (on

Minutes Of Annual General Meeting May 2010 - posted 25 May 2010

held in the Reading Room, Helmdon on Thursday 13th May 2010 at 8.00 p.m.

1. CHAIRMAN'S WELCOME The Chairman welcomed all those present, especially Mrs. Barbara Whitlock who has agreed to become the new Reading Room Secretary.

Mr. H. Seckington, Mrs. J. Heady, Mrs. M. Reardon, Mrs. M. Underwood, Mr. P. Burns

3. MINUTES OF THE AGM HELD ON 14TH MAY 2009 Mr. Moody proposed that the Minutes were a true and accurate account of the proceedings. Mrs. Cairns seconded the proposal. The Chairman signed the Minutes.

4. MATTERS ARISING There were no matters arising.


"We have had a lot happening since the last AGM. Remedial work on the outside of the building is still ongoing. The refurbishment program is still under way. The hiding of pipe work has already been completed, as has the lighting in the top of the building. By the end of the summer this year the rest of the electrical work, lighting, fire alarm system and audio system should be completed. This is all thanks to Caroline who with a lot of hard work has secured two grants: one for £9,868 from Awards For All; this is Lottery funded. Although we were informed about the success of this grant a few weeks ago, we didn't make it general knowledge because one of the conditions of the award was that Awards For All would anounce it first to the media. So the least people who knew about it, the less chance of it getting out. Please accept my apologies for this but better to be safe than sorry.

A grant from Councillor Andrew Grant's fund for £920 for new chairs has also been secured. Other avenues are being explored for more funding by the Grants Sub Committee who are also doing a lot of hard work.

In the hall tonight are two sample chairs and we would like you to try them out during the evening and at the end of the meeting we will take a vote as to which one to purchase.

Last year a Fundraising Committee was formed by people who care about the Reading Room and a lot of functions were held. Not just by the Committee but by your good selves and your organisations. The outcome of this has been a whopping £5,000 into the coffers. All of these issues will be discussed later in the meeting.

I would like to welcome three new representatives on to the General Management Committee: Richard Foster (Helmdon Parish Paths Group), Danny Moody (Helmdon Parish Plan) and Eddie Garner (Reading Room Fundraising Committee). I would also like to welcome Barbara Whitlock who has kindly offered to take over as Secretary from Caroline. I hope you will enjoy working with the Committee and I know you will not be on your own. Caroline is always on the other end of the phone and I know she will give you all the help and guidance that you need. Oh, and by the way Caroline, ... the man doesn't talk with forked tongue!

Now we come to the bad news. Harrold Seckington has resigned his position as Treasurer and Steward due to ill health. I don't know how long he has been doing these jobs but I am guessing it must be getting on for 40 years. I for one am very sorry to see him go. For the past few years Pat & John Woodhams have been officiating for him and they have done a marvellous job. Pat and John have informed me that they are still willing to carry on taking the bookings if you so wish. We can talk about this at the meeting following this AGM.

Also Jan Harrold has resigned her position as Vice Chair and will be a big loss to the Management Committee. She has, however, agreed to stay on as a member of the Grants Sub Committee.

Then we have Caroline who has resigned as Secretary: another big loss.

I would now like to propose a vote of thanks to all of the people who are resigning, for the time and effort they have put in over the years and have helped to make the Reading Room the place it is today."

6. TREASURER'S ANNUAL REPORT Unfortunately both Mr. Seckington and Mrs. Woodhams were unable to attend the meeting, the Chairman therefore gave the following report.

The Current Account holds £12,833. The grant from Awards For All has just been paid into the account and this amount (£9,868) will be transferred into the sixty day account soon. The sixty day account holds £7,501.45p.

Looking at the audited Report and Accounts ending March 2010 the Chairman explained to the meeting why such a large amount had been paid out under the Electrical and General Repairs: £2,185 has been paid to Mr. Valentine for his work on the lighting and smaller amounts paid to Mr. Bliss for PAT testing, Mr. Smith for work on the Reading Room Cottage and the boiler, toilets and radiators, Deddington Roofing, Mr. Brackenboro for boxing in the pipes, Mr. Holt for repairs to the front of the building, Gilbert Electrics who were called out to look at the oven, there were roof repairs and a new 'fridge and new kettle bought.

Mr. Moody asked the Chairman why the Reading Room Fund Raising money did not appear on the accounts and some other queries regarding amounts paid out by the Helmdon Parochial Church Council and the Parish Council were raised by members.

Mr. Moody said that if the role of the AGM was to approve the audited accounts, it was clear that this couldn't happen in this case because of the queries. Mr. Harrold agreed. The Chairman agreed that there should be a meeting with Mrs. Woodhams who would explain the accounts and answer peoples queries and the newly elected Treasurer should be present at such a meeting.

A question was raised about the loss of revenue when the Acorns Pre School Nursery move to their own premises. The Chairman said the the Fund Raising Committee would continue to raise money, even when the refurbishment project was completed and this should cover the loss.

7. SECRETARY'S CORRESPONDENCE The Secretary reported that there had been the usual routine correspondence with the insurers, the Charity Commission, the Licensing Department, Acre, Northants County Council (updating them on the facilities in The Reading Room in case the premises has to be used as a designated place of refuge), correspondence with village organisations re fund raising and many letters and e-mails with various grant giving bodies, especially Awards For All.

8. LETTING FEES The Chairman quoted the present fees charged for hiring the premises (which can be found on the Helmdon website). Mr. Brookhouse proposed that they remain the same for the coming year. This proposal was seconded by Mrs. England.

Mrs. Forgham asked about the rent for the Reading Room Cottage. The Chairman told her this was £5,520.00 per annum. Mrs. Cairns proposed that the rent remain the same and this was seconded by Mrs. Saunders.

9. INSURANCE The Vice Chairman said that this was still (despite general price rises) cheaper than it was with our original insurers two years ago. Mr. Moody proposed that we stay with the same insurers for the time being. Mrs. Cairns seconded the proposal.

10. AUDITOR Mr. Brookhouse proposed that the auditor be retained. Mr. Moody seconded the proposal.

11. P.A.T. TESTING The Chairman explained that the questions here was whether all electrical equipment brought in to the Reading Room should be P.A.T. tested or not. The Reading Room's insurers, however, said that all such equipment must be tested for the Reading Room's insurance cover to be valid.

The Chairman said that if we abide by our insurers demands, the Conditions of Use document would have to be amended and he read out the proposed new clause that would be added to the Conditions of Use (using wording supplied by Mr. Philip King, solicitor).

There was some general discussion about testing of equipment used by groups regularly hiring the Reading Room and the Parish Clerk suggested that all such groups should have their electrical equipment tested together.

The Vice Chairman wondered how people bringing in their own equipment from outside of the village (i.e. visiting lecturers, bands etc.) could be regulated. The Chairman explained that all such equipment that has been P.A.T. tested will have a sticker on it with the date the examination was carried out and that it would be the responsibility of the person hiring the Reading Room to ensure that they checked this and that they understood that in the event of any damage being caused to The Reading Room (e.g. electrical fire) by unsafe equipment they could be held to be responsible.

It was agreed that the new wording covering P.A.T. testing would be added to the Conditions of Use (which can be found on the Helmdon website). Secretary to arrange.


a) The Chairman asked Mr. Richard Foster, Grants Sub Committee (comprising also Judy Cairns and Jan Harrold), to report to the meeting on their progress:

"The Sub-Committee was set up at the last General Management Committee to help the Secretary with the additional work involved with seeking grants from funding sources.

  • Caroline had already completed an application to The Big Lottery for an Awards For All Grant of £9,868 but we have had no result yet.
  • We worked with Caroline on an application to Councillor Grant for a NCC Empowering Councillors & Communities Scheme grant and we have been promised £920 towards the cost of new chairs.
  • Caroline has completed an application to Helmdon Parish Council for £920 for the purchase of additional chairs. We have had no results as yet.

We have reviewed a list of all the suggested funding sources supplied to Caroline by the Northamptonshire Community Assets Project and have written to the following four Charitable Trusts that appeared most likely to help us.

  • Maud Elkington Charitable Trust: Trustees will consider our letter 24 June.
  • Constance Travis Charitable Trust: Cheque received for £1000 10 June
  • Earl Fitzwilliam Charitable Trust: No results yet
  • Hadley Trust: No results yet.

There were two other funding sources that the Sub Committee considered could make substantial contributions: 'South Northamptonshire Council Capital Grants' up to 35% of the total cost after the majority of the funds have been raised and 'The Trusthouse Charitable Foundation' up to £10,000. However the Sub Committee did not feel that they were in a position to provide all the supporting information required by these two organizations at this stage."

b) This was followed by a report from the Secretary about the grants she had applied for:

"As you have just heard from Bill we are delighted to have received a grant from Awards For All (National Lottery) for £9,868.00 to help with the cost of new lighting, fire alarms and an audio system.

There are a few very important things to bear in mind with this grant, namely:a) It is part of the contract we signed with Awards For All that we will publicise this grant. Bill and I have already spoken to the Banbury Guardian, the Brackley and Towcester Advertiser and the Northampton Chronicle and Echo. The Banbury Guardian will possibly be coming to take some photographs soon. We also have to ensure that we send to Awards For All for some stickers or a plaque which must be displayed prominently in the hall.

b) The work being funded by this grant must be finished by mid April 2011.

c) Just as important is the End of Work Report. This is a record of monies spent and work done using money from this grant. Receipts must be kept and the report filed when this work is completed.

As I am resigning as Secretary, it is necessary that somebody takes over this monitoring role.

Apart from Awards For All I applied to Councillor Andrew Grant from Northamptonshire County Council for a grant and he will be sending us a cheque for £920 to help purchase some (about 20) new chairs."

This was followed by a report from Mr. Garner – Treasurer of the Reading Room Fund Raising Committee:

"We now have £5,027 in the Fund Raising bank account. There have been tremendous individual efforts by certain people in the village including the magnificent contribution from Sue Lidgley with her Greek Night. It has been a wonderful effort by the whole village but, having said that, we must not stop now. We must show that we can generate as much money this year as we made in the last six month period; if we can do that we will be well on the way to getting a good result. Thank you to each and every single person who has done anything to raise money for this cause."

CHAIRS: Concerning other refurbishment matters, the Vice Chairman explained that she had brought two sample chairs with her and asked people to try them and see which they thought was the best. She went on to say that there had been some queries about the (high) cost of these chairs but she had done a lot of research and they represented the best value for money. Of the two chairs available for testing, the vote was in favour of the black chair.

c) CEILING: Mr. Moody had been asked at a meeting of the Reading Room Management Committee on 19th February 2010 to investigate the possibilities of reinstating some kind of false ceiling. Mr. Moody presented his very detailed report, explaining that there were three issues to consider: acoustics, aesthetics and energy performance and he went through all three points. Mr. Moody's report was discussed and it was concluded that it might be best – in view of people's differing ideas – to hold a survey to decide which option the Reading Room should adopt. [For copies of this report please ask the Chairman, Vice Chairman or Secretary]

13. One final point of business was discussed and that was the news that Mr. Seckington, Treasurer and Steward has resigned. The Chairman told the meeting that Mr. Seckington had been doing this job for at least forty years and he proposed that a small plaque be fixed in the Reading Room thanking him for his services to the Reading Room. This proposal was seconded by Mr. Harrold.

The Chairman ended the meeting by thanking the departing Vice Chairman and the Secretary for their help. Mrs. Cairns, on behalf of the meeting, thanked Mr. England for all his hard work

The Chairman ended the meeting at 9.30 p.m.


Held in The Reading Room, Helmdon
At 9.30 p.m. on Thursday 13th May 2010 following the AGM


1. CHAIRMAN Mrs. Cairns proposed that Bill England be Chairman and this proposal was seconded by Mr. Foster

2. VICE CHAIRMAN Mrs. England proposed that Eddie Garner be Vice Chairman. Mr. Foster then proposed that Danny Moody be Vice Chairman and this proposal was seconded by Mrs. Lidgley and the vote was unanimous in Mr. Moody's favour.

3. TREASURER Mrs. Cairns proposed that Richard Foster be Treasurer and this proposal was seconded by Mrs. Harrold

4. STEWARD Mr. Foster proposed that Doreen England be Steward and this proposal was seconded by Mrs. Cairns.

[Bookings: It was also proposed, by Mrs. England, that Mrs. Pat Woodhams continue to take bookings for the Reading Room. This was seconded by Mrs. Lidgley.]

Working Committee as at 13th May 2010:



Mrs. Barbara Whitlock [Contact information removed]

The meeting ended at 9.55 p.m.


of Members of the General Management Committee of

The Helmdon Reading Room at the AGM on 13th May 2010


Mrs J Saunders

Helmdon Church PCC


Mrs M Rimmer

Helmdon Girl Guides and Bridge Players


Mrs J Cairns

Helmdon Women's Club


Mrs J Heady

Drop-in Centre


Mr R Foster

Helmdon Footpaths Group


Mr D Brookhouse

Helmdon Conservatives


Mrs S Lidgley

Friends of Helmdon Churchyard


Mrs S Marshall

Acorns Pre-School


Mrs J Harrold

Helmdon WEA


Mr Bill England

Helmdon Parish Council


Mrs M Reardon

Helmdon Gardening Club


Mrs M Underwood

Helmdon Presents


Mr E Garner

Reading Room Fund Raising Committee


Mr D Moody

Helmdon Parish Plan



Mr Bill England


Vice Chairman
Mrs J Harrold


Mr H Seckington


Mrs C King (and Mrs B Whitlock)


Your Personal Invitation To The Reading Room AGM - posted 9 May 2010

click to poster (on

Annual General Meeting - posted 28 April 2010

The Annual General Meeting of the Reading Room will take place on 13th May 2010 at 8.00 pm in The Reading Room

All are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards. If you want to add anything to the Agenda or have any queries please call either Bill England or Caroline King on.

The AGM will be followed by a short meeting (of the General Management Committee only) for the election of officers.


  1. Chairman's welcome

2. Apologies for absence

3. Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 14th May 2009

4. Matters arising from the Minutes

5. Chairman's Annual Report

6. Treasurer's Annual Report

7. Correspondence

8. Letting fees

9. Insurance

10. Auditor

11. PAT testing on electrical equipment/amendment to Conditions of Use

12. Refurbishment project update:
(a) Richard Foster to give update on grant applications
(b) Update on Awards For All grant & Councillor Grant's grant
(c) Eddie Garner to give update on fund raising
(d) New chairs for the Reading Room

Report From Spring 2010 Talkabout - posted 19 April 2010

Hello everyone. There have been a few developments since the last issue, but something that hasn't changed is the popularity of the hall. It is already booked most evenings and of course daytime slots. This may change however if the Acorns get their wish and build a venue of their own. I wish them luck in their venture. This will mean of course that daytime slots will become available, and we will do our best to make sure the Reading Room is still used to the full.

A fundraising committee was formed during the middle part of last year, to raise funds for the refurbishment of the hall, and with its help and the fundraising of individual organisations a fantastic sum of over £4000 has been raised, and many more fundraising events are arranged for this year, some are already posted on the Village Diary. If anyone has any ideas raising funds or would like to help in any way, we will only to pleased to hear from you. I would at this point like to thank all those involved with this venture, GREAT EFFORT THANKS.

Certain works have already been completed, the pipe work in the main hall has been successfully hidden, and new lighting has been installed at high level. A lot of remedial work has been completed to the exterior of the building, and in fact is ongoing, it's no good looking to make the inside of the building looking good if the building falls down around us (it's not that bad really ). An efficiency report was compiled by Mr Neil Buckley which pointed out certain shortfalls, and these are being considered to be rectified. Again I must thank Neil for his report.

This report seems to be full of thank yous but it only reflects on the generosity and kindness of the people of Helmdon. I have however one more thank you to deliver and that is to our secretary (Caroline) who unfortunately resigning in May. This is a big loss to The Reading Room, she has shown so much dedication and commitment in her duties, and without her the hall would not have moved this far forward. I thank you very much Caroline, and I know you will be sorely missed by us all who cares for The Reading Room. So having said that, we need a replacement, to work with Caroline until May, and then take over full duties. If anyone feels they would like to take on this role please let us know.

This only leaves me to say thanks for your continued support, and may the Reading Room go from strength to strength.

Bill England
Chairman Reading Room Management Committee

Helmdon Needs You - posted 22 February 2010

I think we all agree that the Reading Room is the social, cultural and educational heart of Helmdon. Without it the village would be a much poorer place and would lose that special feeling of unity we enjoy so much in Helmdon. We have all enjoyed many hours in The Reading Room at parties, club meetings, film shows etc. The Drop In Centre, especially, is vital for the welfare and social needs of the elderly.

Like any building, the Reading Room needs to be administered and the Management Committee do a great job making sure they cater for everybody's needs.

BUT we do need a new Secretary. If you would like to help Helmdon maintain this wonderful facility, perhaps taking on the role of Secretary is for you? You would be very much at the heart of the important things that Helmdon has to offer and would enjoy meeting new people and getting involved in village life.

Please consider this idea and if you need any more information, don't hesitate to call either Bill England (Chairman), or Caroline King (Secretary)

Reading Room Secretary Wanted - 14th January 2010

We are looking for someone to take over the position of Secretary. This is a very important job, as the Reading Room cannot function without someone to fill this position. I must remind anyone who applies that it is purely voluntary but any expenses incurred will, of course, be paid.

It would be ideal if anyone who would like to take over this role could start as soon as possible, so as to work alongside the present Secretary (Caroline) and take over full duties in May 2010.

This is a very crucial time for the Reading Room, as many of you know, especially with the refurb. and money raising, but with Caroline and the Committee's guidance, I'm sure the transition will run smoothly.

If anyone is interested could you please contact Bill England or Caroline King

News Archive 2007-2009

Minutes Of Annual General Meeting - posted 7th June 2009


Held in the Reading Room, Helmdon
on Thursday 14th May 2009 at 8.00 p.m.

1. CHAIRMAN'S WELCOME The Chairman welcomed all those present.

Mr. Harold Seckington, Mrs. Doreen England, Mrs. Janet Heady, Mrs. Margaret Reardon

3. MINUTES OF THE AGM HELD ON 28 TH MAY 2008 it was unanimously agreed that the Minutes were a true and accurate account of the proceedings. The Chairman signed the Minutes.

4. MATTERS ARISING Mrs. Harrold asked whether the missing Deeds to the Reading Room had been found. The Chairman replied that he had looked on the internet but couldn't find a trace of them. Mr. Forgham asked why it was necessary to find the Deeds and the Chairman explained that whilst it wasn't actually necessary (see past correspondence, copied to all representatives, from the Charity Commission), it was a matter of historical value only. Mrs. Cairns will try to procure the Deeds from the Land Registry.


"The last year has not seen much going on with the refurbishment of the hall unfortunately; this is due to the fact that we had not got all of the estimates together until just recently. I will go into the whys and wherefores later on in the meeting. However, we have installed two new oil tanks for the Reading Room and the Cottage, a job that had to be undertaken (a) to comply with the new regulations and (b) because they had got past their sell by date (which is how I sometimes feel!). Getting everything organised, getting estimates, looking for suitable organisation from whom to apply for grants and making sure of the day to day running, and maintenance of the Reading Room has been hard work and indeed sometimes a headache for those involved, so don't be surprised if later on in the meeting I ask for volunteers for several ideas which we have in mind.

Financially the Reading Room is sound but I'm afraid we need to spend. We will venture on this subject later.

I would like to thank you all on the good housekeeping. Hardly any complaints at all this year."

6. TREASURER'S REPORT (Read out by the Chairman in the absence of the Treasurer). As at the end of March 2009 there was £4,908.77 in the current account (although today there is more than that due to a payment of £750 from the Carnival Committee) and £7,461.87 in the deposit account giving an overall total of £12,560.64 as at the end of March 2009..

7. CORRESPONDENCE The Secretary told the meeting that there had not been much correspondence apart from the usual Charity Commission Annual Return to complete; some correspondence with Anglian Water re a replacement water meter for the Reading Room (which has been done) and the usual ACRE newsletters and magazines - copies of which (magazines only) are always put in the Committee Room for anyone to read.

8. ROOF TILES The Chairman explained that Johnny Wilson has been round to look at the roof and has replaced one or two tiles. The chimney needs to be sorted out but otherwise the roof isn't too bad. However, a leak has developed in the passage leading to the kitchen and it has been discovered that the kitchen flat roof is rotten. Unfortunately within the next two to three weeks this is going to have to be dealt with. The Chairman is asking Deddington Roofing and Andy Page for estimates. Mrs. Saunders suggested asking 'Ken-Nick' and will provide the Chairman with their telephone number. The Chairman said that unfortunately it would not be possible to get a grant for a flat roof. Mr. Moody asked if the Chairman had looked into the feasibility or cost of putting on another sort of roof and the Chairman replied that he wondered if there could be a rake off the present roof and also wondered whether this would require planning permission.

9. LETTING FEES It was proposed by Mrs. Lidgley and seconded by Judy Cairns that these should remain the same.

Mrs. Harrold asked if the Cottage rent was the same as it was some years ago and the Chairman confirmed that it was. There was some discussion about this and in the end Mrs. Hadfield proposed that the rent be left as it is for the present and only if the tenant left or there was some urgency about getting repairs done should the Committee look into it at the next AGM. This proposal was seconded by Mrs. Saunders.

10. INSURANCE The meeting unanimously approved the new insurers (who are some £300 cheaper than the previous ones).

11. AUDITOR The meeting unanimously agreed to keep the present auditors.

12. KITCHEN EQUIPMENT Mrs. Saunders asked if the kettle in the kitchen could be replaced by a bigger one. Mrs. Underwood proposed this and all were in favour.

The Chairman explained that all the equipment in the Reading Room had to be PAT tested. This applied to ACORNS too and it was agreed that the ACORNS should leave out their portable equipment for testing over the coming weekend. Ms. Tracey Hall (the new ACORNS representative) wondered what the legal position was when people hiring the hall brought equipment in for just one session. The Chairman said that perhaps the Conditions of Use should be changed to accommodate this problem. Secretary to include a new sub-section in the Conditions of Use.

13. REFURBISHMENT The Chairman read through some notes that the Secretary had prepared about grants and the process of applying for grants. He went on to say that nobody would consider giving a grant to the Reading Room without the Reading Room being seen to be doing fund raising of its own. The Chairman said that just two of the ideas for fund raising were starting up a 200 Club and bingo and he asked for volunteers from the representatives to organise this. Nobody volunteered.

There was further discussion about fund-raising and it was suggested that people and organisations should be approached directly, that notices were posted on the Helmdon website and articles published in the Talkabout magazine. Nobody volunteered .

It was then suggested that the Secretary write to all the organisations using the Reading Room asking if they could fund-raise on behalf of the Reading Room occasionally. The letter might also ask for their help in running the 200 Club or bingo. The Secretary was also asked to approach the Young Husbands organisation to see if they would consider giving the Reading Room a percentage of the profits they make at the Barn Dance this spring. These ideas were proposed by Mrs. Lidgley and seconded by Mrs. Saunders.

The Chairman suggested that with regards the actual work, the pelmet should be done first to accommodate the next step which would be the electrics. He said that the Reading Room should pay for this first piece of work itself. This idea was proposed by Mr. Forgham and seconded by Mrs. Underwood. Although Mr. Brackenboro had given an itemised estimate for this and other work, the other person who had given an estimate, Mr. Holt, had not given a separate price for fixing the pelmet and so the Chairman said he would ask Mr. Holt for this. It was then suggested that whoever was the cheapest, should get the job. Mrs. Cairns proposed this idea and Mrs. Lidgley seconded it.

With regard to the electrical work the Chairman had two quotes: one from Mr. Valentine and one from Mr. Bliss. They both had different views on how best to light the hall but it was agreed that the Chairman would ask Mr. Valentine how much he would charge to install fluorescent lights rather than the spotlights mentioned in his estimate. Then Mr. Valentine's quote could be compared like for like with Mr. Bliss'

quote. It was agreed to go for the cheapest quote. This was proposed by Mrs. Saunders and seconded by Mrs. Hadfield.

Mrs. Cairns thanked the Working Committee for all their hard work and the meeting ended at 9.50 pm


Held in the Reading Room on Thursday 14th May 2009 following the AGM


Mr. Bill England was re-elected as Chairman; proposed by Mrs. Cairns and seconded by Mrs. Lidgley. All in favour; motion carried.

Mrs. J. Harrold was re-elected as Vice Chairman: proposed by Mrs. Hadfield and seconded by Mrs. Cairns. All in favour; motion carried.

Mr. H. Seckington was re-elected as Treasurer/Steward; proposed by Mrs. Saunders and seconded by Mrs. Lidgley. All in favour; motion carried.

The Helmdon Reading Room Working Committee for 2009/2010 is:
Chairman - Mr. Bill England
Vice Chairman - Mrs. J. Harrold
Treasurer - Mr. H. Seckington
Steward - Mr. H. Seckington
Secretary - Mrs. C. King

The meeting ended at 10.10 p.m.

Attendance at the Annual General Meeting of the Helmdon Reading Room 2009
Mrs. J. Saunders - Helmdon Church PCC - Present
Mr. Michael Ayres - Helmdon Sports & Social Club
Mrs. Michele Rimmer - Helmdon Girl Guides
Mrs. Michele Rimmer - Helmdon Bridge Players
Mrs. J. Cairns - Helmdon Womens Club - Present
Mrs. Janet Heady - Drop In Centre
Mrs. Doreen England - Helmdon W.I.
Mr. David Brookhouse - Helmdon Conservatives
Mrs. S. Lidgley -Friends of Helmdon Churchyard - Present
Ms. T. Hall - Acorns Pre-School - Present
Mrs. J. Harrold - Helmdon W.E.A. - Present
Mrs. M. Reardon - Helmdon Gardening Club
Mrs. J. Hadfield - Helmdon Fellowship - Present
Mr. B. England - Helmdon Parish Council - Present

The Working Committee: All present except Mr H Seckington.

Annual General Meeting - 27th April 2009

The Annual General Meeting of the Helmdon Reading Room will take place on the Thursday 14th May 2009 at 8.00 p.m. All are welcome. Refreshments will be served.

If you want to add anything to the Agenda or have any queries, please call either Bill England (Chairman) or myself, Caroline King (Secretary).

The AGM will be followed by a short meeting (of the General Management Committee only) for the election of officers.

Agenda1. Chairman's welcome
2. Apologies for absence
3. Minutes of the AGM held on 28th May 2008
4. Matters arising from the Minutes
5. Chairman's annual report
6. Treasurer's annual report
7. Correspondence
8. Roof tiles
9. Letting fees
10. Insurance
11. Auditor
12. Kitchen equipment
13. Update on the refurbishment project
14. Reading Room Deeds

Quotes Invited For Making New Curtains For The Reading Room - 21st January 2009

The Helmdon Reading Room Management Committee is seeking quotes for new curtains for the Reading Room as part of its refurbishment programme for summer 2009.

Please ring either myself (secretary) or Mrs Jan Harrold (vice-chairman) if you are interested in making (not necessarily supplying the material) two sets of curtains for the hall. If you have been into the Reading Room you will know that there is a pair of very large curtains across the window facing the street, and another, smaller pair, covering the window above the sliding doors.

We look forward to hearing from you and providing you with more details.

Thank you
Caroline King (secretary)
Jan Harrold (vice-chairman)

Report Of General Management Committee - 22nd December 2008

At the meeting of the General Management Committee on 9th November several ideas were discussed about the proposed renovation of the Reading Room. (The renovation will probably have to take place in the summer holidays when the hall is not so fully booked and Acorns Pre-School Playgroup have broken up.)

The ideas discussed and agreed to are as follows:

1. Leave the ceiling exposed

2. Fluorescent lights to be fitted underneath a false beam all the way round the hall (four lights on each side)

3. A pelmet to be fitted around the hall incorporating a spotlight track and hiding the wiring and the horizontal pipes. The vertical pipework will also be boxed in and painted the same colour as the wall

4. The ceiling to be insulated and decorated and the hall to be completely decorated

5. A switch to be installed to make it easier for people entering a dark hall.

6. A PA system with a remote microphone and a 'disco' system (hidden away) to be installed. (The loop system will stay)

7. A new fire alarm system

8. New curtains

9. Possibly new chairs

Quotes and estimates are being sought for all of the above and when they have been gathered in grants will be applied for.

Before any work is done, the General Management Committee will be asked to a meeting to discuss the finer points, e.g. paint colour etc.

Please ring either the Chairman, Mr. Bill England, or the Secretary, Mrs. Caroline King if you would like more details.

Report From Autumn Talkabout - 11th November 2008

We all deserve to have a party when the refurbished Reading Room is officially opened. By the time that magic day comes we, (and I mean everyone who looks after, uses and loves the reading Room), will be thoroughly fed up with wet paint, cement dust and scaffolding. I haven't run this idea past Bill England (Chairman) yet but I know he enjoys a good 'do' as much as anybody! How about it Bill!

Seriously though, it may seem that progress on the refurbishment front is slow but these things do – frustratingly – take time. The new future will see more consultative meetings, getting estimates and then delving into the mysterious world of grants.

The difficult thing about this sort of project is that the hall belongs to all of us and all of us have different ideas about how things should be done. So far, like any large family, there have been a few differences of opinion but we all seem to be pulling together at last.

However, it WILL all get one and then we will have a wonderful building in which to meet. It is bound to attract even more bookings which are lovely and at the same time a bit tricky when the hall is so well booked up already. Still, I'm sure we can squeeze everyone in.

As ever, thank you all so much for supporting the Reading Room and if we can get through the next few months of disruption, we will come out the other end with rather smug looks on our faces.

Anyway, about that party Bill ……

Carline King
Secretary to the Reading Room

Annual General Meeting 2008 - 11th June 2008


Held in The Reading Room
On Wednesday 28th May 2008 at 8.00 p.m.

1. CHAIRMAN'S WELCOME: The Chairman welcomed all those present.

2. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: Mrs. J. Saunders, Helmdon Church P.C.C.

3. MINUTES OF THE AGM HELD ON 5TH JUNE 2007: it was unanimously agreed that the Minutes were a true and accurate account of the proceedings. The Chairman signed the Minutes.

4. MATTERS ARISING: the Vice Chairman wondered whether the plinths (below the cupboards) in the kitchen were still falling off. The Chairman said that they should be in place. Mrs. England said that they still kept falling off and the Chairman said he would talk to John Brackenboro about them.

5. CHAIRMAN'S ANNUAL REPORT: "The last twelve months have been quite interesting. There was some concern over the relationship between the Parish Council and the Reading Room; this, however, has now been resolved after much investigation by the Reading Room Secretary and myself.

Members of the Parish were invited to a meeting in April to discuss the improvements of the main hall and the main point as a result was to remove the existing suspended ceiling and to expose the original one. As you can see this has been achieved. Nearly all the feedback has so far been positive.

Pam Wilton from ACRE visited the hall in May to give the Committee some input and advice and was very helpful in respect of funding and Caroline is in full flight following this up.

Thee finances at the moment are looking quite healthy although there are some unexpected maintenance works to be carried out. These will be discussed in Item 8.

I would like to once again thank you all for your continued support and especially for the good housekeeping. Thank you".

6. TREASURER'S ANNUAL REPORT: The Treasurer had handed out copies of the Receipts and Payments Account (for year ended 31 March 2008) to all those present. As at 31st March 2008 the bank deposit account held £12,353.38 and the bank current account £3,108.53.

The Vice Chairman queried the fact that service and renewal of fire extinguishers had gone down in price and wondered why. The Treasurer explained that in 2007 some new fire extinguishers and a fire blanket were purchased hence the increased cost last year.

7. CORRESPONDENCE: the Secretary summarised the most important correspondence she had received since the last AGM:

  • A lot of comments had been received about the refurbishment of the Reading Room and these have been set out in the Minutes of the Refurbishment Meeting held earlier this year. These Minutes are also on the Helmdon Website.
  • It was thought necessary to write to the Charity Commission to clarify several important points about the ownership of the Reading Room and the documentation the Committee holds in its possession. The reply from the Charity Commission clearly sets out the Committee's duties and rights with regard to the Reading Room.
  • The yearly Northamptonshire Council emergency planning checklist has been completed and it became clear last summer, when Helmdon flooded, how important this is. The Reading Room is a designated point of help and refuge for victims of disasters and since last summer another form has been completed and returned to the Council so their records are up to date.
  • Following lengthy 'phone calls and form-filling, the Reading Room now has an entertainment licence which allows for the showing of films. This was granted last autumn.
  • About three times a year ACRE send various information sheets and a magazine about village life. As usual the magazines are kept in the rack in the Committee Room for everyone to read. (The information sheets are kept by the Secretary for ease of reference but may be read by anyone interested). The Secretary thought she should remind people of this as it became clear when Mrs. Wilton from ACRE visited the hall that not everybody had remembered where the magazines are kept.
  • There has been some correspondence (and a visit) from the surveyors Peter North about the cracks in the main hall and extension. Crack-measuring devices have now been installed and these are monitored once a month by the Secretary. This will carry on for a year.

Mrs. Cairns asked whether the Reading Room Deeds were still needed and it was explained to her that – according to the Charity Commission – the Scheme (what used to be called the Constitution) overrides the Deeds and they are not required. The Chairman thought it would still be nice to have the Deeds and has been searching for them for several months now. He is going to try to get a copy.


The Ceiling: Mrs. Hadfield said that the old ceiling panels which have now been taken down were baffle boards for sound and she thought that without them there might be problems if music were played in the hall. The Chairman responded by saying that the ceiling was taken down exactly so that it could be seen what problems this might cause i.e. poor sound quality. Mrs. Lidgley wondered about the heating loss and the Chairman said that there would probably be very little heating loss but even so Mrs. Wilton from ACRE suggested getting some insulation for the ceiling. The Vice Chairman wondered what the next step should be and the Chairman said that was to be decided but he suggested that the ceiling should be painted in the interim. Mrs. Lidgley disagreed and thought painting should wait until a grant had been obtained for the insulation.

I Mrs. England proposed that the ceiling be painted in the interim and this was seconded by Mrs. Hadfield. The motion carried.

II Roof tiles: the Chairman told the meeting that there were some roof tiles missing and he didn't as yet know how much this would cost to repair.

III. Oil tanks: the Chairman explained that both the Reading Room and the Reading Room cottage oil tanks were in a bad state and were liable to leak. Two quotes for replacements tanks have been received; one said that the cottage oil tank should be the first one to be replaced. If there was a leak the Committee would be liable for cleaning up the resulting mess and there would be a big fine too. The first quote from Domestic Tank Services Ltd. for replacing the cottage tank (and relocating it) is £1,592.00 (+ VAT) and for the hall tank £1,392.00 (+VAT). (The Chairman said that no mention seems to have been made of the drain by the entrance to the disabled access door and also that although the quote mentions bunded tanks, this was not totally clear.) The second quote received from On Tap Helmdon says it will cost £2,473.38 just to replace the hall tank. No estimate was given for the cottage tank.

Mr. Moody said that the Domestic Tank Services quote should be investigated with regard to the bunded tank situation and the drain.

Mr. Harrold said he was concerned about the situation and there should be no 'tweaking' of the rules to accommodate the new tanks as this could invalidate our insurance apart from anything else.

The Chairman said that the Domestic Tank Services Ltd. should be contacted to see whether the tanks are bunded and also mention the drain. On Tap Helmdon should also be contacted to get a quote for the cottage oil tank.

Mr. Moody said that the two firms both mentioned that the tanks should be replaced "soon" but what did "soon" mean? The Chairman said that in this context "soon" meant as soon as possible. Mr. Moody wondered whether the cost of the replacement tanks could be part of the heating and insulation grant that might be applied for.

Mrs. Cairns proposed that the whole matter be left to the Working Committee bearing in mind all the comments that have been made. Seconded unanimously by the whole meeting.

Mr. Forgham suggested going out to tender again and making sure that the tender complies with all the regulations.

On one last point the Chairman mentioned that he had disposed of the mat by the emergency exit in the kitchen as this was not a public thoroughfare and was a tripping hazard if the door were to be used in an emergency.

9. ACORNS: Mrs. Wheeler, representing the Acorns playgroup, said that Ofsted regulations required the playgroup to offer nappy-changing facilities. She went on to say that Acorns would therefore like to request such a nappy-changing unit be installed in the larger (disabled) lavatory. Acorns would be prepared to pay for the equipment and installation. The table is to be of the fold-up variety. Mr. Harrold asked where the nappies would be disposed of and Mrs. Wheeler explained that they would be given to the parents. The Chairman said that any such table must not encroach on the door because access was important. Mrs. Wheeler proposed that such a table be installed and this was seconded by Mrs. Lidgley. The rest of the meeting was in favour.

Mrs. Wheeler asked if there was a possibility of extending the hours that Acorns rented the Reading Room. Acorns would like to offer a lunch club on a Monday or/and a Wednesday if possible. The sessions would finish at 1.00 and the key returned by 1.30. Mrs. Lidgley proposed the motion that Acorns should have extended hours and the meeting were all in favour. The motion was carried.

Mrs. Wheeler also asked if, when the refurbishment was carried out, there could be more ventilation in the extension. The Chairman said that that would be discussed when the plans for the refurbishment were decided. Mrs. Wheeler also asked if there was any possibility of more cupboard space for the Acorns. The Chairman said he really thought there wasn't.

10. CARNIVAL FLOATS: The Chairman said that the Reading Room Committee had been approached to see if they wanted to provide a float in the Helmdon Carnival parade in August. Mrs. Lidgley said she did not think it possible because most of the Committee members were involved in other things at that time. It was decided by the meeting that the Reading Room would not provide a float for the carnival.

11. ARRANGEMENTS FOR FUNERAL RECPETIONS IN THE READING ROOM: The Chairman said that at the General Management Committee meeting last year it was mentioned that Acorns had had to give up one of their sessions for a funeral reception. It has always been an unwritten rule that funeral receptions take precedence over any previously booked session. At that meeting the Chairman asked the Secretary to check through all the Minute Books in her possession and see if this custom was an actual rule, or something that had become common practice. The Secretary found nothing in the Minutes Books. The Chairman went on to say that if there was to be a ruling made about this situation the time to do it was at this Annual General Meeting.

Mr. Harrold said that if a rule was made that funerals take precedence over any other bookings, this should be mentioned in the Letting Conditions so that people booking the hall would know that this was a possibility.

Mrrs. Cairns said that this custom came about before Acorns used the Reading Room and that Acorns should not have to lose a session because of funeral receptions. Mrs. Lidgley agreed with her. Mr. Harrold said that if there is a funeral in the afternoon, the reception could then be held in the Reading Room because it is not often booked in the afternoon. A compromise was between all parties was needed. Mrs. Cairns proposed that funerals do not take precedence over existing bookings. This was seconded by Mrs. Harrold. Most of the meeting was in favour of this and the motion was carried.

12. LETTING FEES: The Chairman asked the meeting if they were happy with the present letting fees. Mrs. Lidgley said she thought the fees should be increased. This was seconded by Mrs. Cairns and all the meeting was in favour. Consequently the new letting fees are as follows:
£15 for a normal session
£25 for children's parties
£75 for an all day session.

The Treasurer said that in respect of children's parties it is not specified in the rules the time that a session is meant to cover. Mr. Harrold was concerned that the new letting fee increase did not reflect the rising cost of electricity but the Chairman said very little electricity was used but that he would increase the number of tokens that have to be used for the cooker, etc. Mrs. Lidgley proposed that the new hire rates be put in place and this was seconded by Mrs. Cairns. All were in favour and the motion was carried. The Chairman suggested that this price increase applies as from now for bookings but that village organisations using the hall will not pay the increase until 1st June 2008. Mrs. Lidgley proposed this and Mr. Seckington seconded it.

13. INSURANCE: The last insurance premium was £1,643.65. The Chairman asked the meeting whether a new insurer offering a less expensive premium should be sought. Mrs. Wheeler proposed that the Committee should look for cheaper insurance and this was seconded by Mrs. Lidgley. It was agreed that the Working Committee should look into this and the Secretary was asked to 'shop around' for cheaper insurance.

14. AUDITOR: It was agreed by the meeting that the same auditors should be retained

15. ELECTRIC ORGAN: The Chairman explained that about two years ago the Reading Room was very kindly given the electric organ. Since then it has not been used very much and he wondered whether people would prefer a piano instead. The meeting agreed that the organ should go and a piano purchased.

Mrs. Cairns thanked the Working Committee for their hard work in the past year and the Chairman closed the meeting at 9.50 p.m.


Held in the Reading Room on Wednesday 28th May 2008 following the AGM


Mr. Bill England was re-elected as Chairman; Mrs. Cairns proposed the motion and was seconded by Mrs. Lidgley and all the meeting was in favour. Motion carried

Mrs. J. Harrold was re-elected as Vice Chairman. Mrs. Cairns proposed the motion and was seconded by Mrs. Lidgley. All in favour. The motion was carried.

Mr. H. Seckington was re-elected as Steward. Mrs. Cairns proposed the motion and was seconded by Mrs. Wheeler. All in favour. The motion was carried.

Mr. H. Seckington was re-elected as Treasurer. Mrs. Cairns proposed the motion and was seconded by Mrs. Lidgley. All in favour. The motion was carried.

The Helmdon Reading Room working Committee 2008/2009:
Chairman Mr. Bill England
Vice Chairman Mrs. J. Harrold
Treasurer/Steward Mr. H. Seckington
Secretary Mrs. C. King

Committee Members Present at the Reading Room AGM/Election of Officers 2008
Mrs. D. England - Helmdon W.I.
Mrs. J. Hadfield - Helmdon Fellowship
Mrs. J. Harrold - Helmdon W.E.A.
Mrs. J. Cairns - Helmdon Women's Club
Mrs. S. Lidgley - Friends of Helmdon Churchyard
Mrs. R. Wheeler - Acorns Playgroup
Mr. Bill England - Helmdon Parish Council
Mrs. J. Heady - Helmdon Drop in Centre

Working Committee Members present at the meeting:
Mr. Bill England Chairman
Mrs. J. Harrold Vice Chairman
Mr. H. Seckington Treasurer/Steward
Mrs. C. King Secretary

Annual General Meeting 2008 - 1st May 2008



You are invited to attend the Reading Room AGM on the above date. Everyone is welcome. After the meeting there will be another short meeting to elect officers on to the Committee (voting is by existing Committee members only) followed by refreshments. If you wish to add anything to the Agenda, please call either Bill England (Chairman) or myself; telephone numbers printed above. Please come.


Chairman's welcome
Apologies for absence
Minutes of the AGM held on 5th June 2007
Matters arising from the Minutes
Chairman's annual report
Treasurer's annual report
Building and refurbishment:

  • Ceiling
  • Roof tiles
  • Oil tank

Carnival float
Arrangements for funeral receptions in the hall
Letting fees
The electric organ

Caroline King (Secretary)

Minutes Of Reading Room Public Meeting - 15th April 2008


Members of the Reading Room GMC present:
Mr. Bill England, Chairman
Mrs. J. Harrold, Vice Chairman
Mrs. C. King, Secretary

The Chairman of the Helmdon Reading Room General Management Committee, Mr. Bill England, welcomed everyone to the meeting and apologised that on the Helmdon Website the meeting had been described as an 'Extraordinary Annual General Meeting' when this was not the case. The Chairman went on to say that the only item on the agenda was the refurbishment of the Reading Room and that he had received many comments and suggestions which he would read out later. The reason for holding a public meeting was that the Reading Room belonged to everyone in Helmdon and it would be quite unfair for the General Management Committee to go ahead with any plans without referring to people living in the village. Most of the feedback the Chairman had received concerned the ceiling.

The Chairman went on to read the various comments and suggestions he had received re the proposed refurbishment. He explained that he would read the comments without giving any names.

"As you know, I am heartily in favour of removing the suspended ceiling and doing what is necessary to clean up what is behind it. If the worst comes to the worst, and no-one likes it, there is nothing lost. The other things I feel would significantly improve the Reading Room are (I know that some of these are planned already): 1. new curtains. 2. new lighting to give some atmosphere to the place (hopefully not entirely politically correct low energy lighting, because this doesn't add any atmosphere at all in my experience). 3. replacement of the plastic folding doors by a sliding/folding dividing wall. (I know this could be quite expensive) 4. redecoration. 5. try to hide the pipework. 6. open up the fireplace – possibly put some lighting in there.

I think it would be a great shame to lose this opportunity to bring back the original character to the building. I speak with some authority because I am one of the few people (if not the only family) in Helmdon to live in a house built by Charles Fairbrother at around the same time as the Reading Room. My house was badly affected in the 60's and 70's by covering up or removing some of the original features and we have been able to restore most of them. So far in over 20 years no-one has commented that "it looked better before you restored it". I am sure the same would apply to the Reading Room."

"With regard to the Reading Room ceiling, I make the following observations: 1. I think the existing ceiling should be removed and the vaulted roof exposed. I do not think that the ceiling adds to the insulation. 2. if possible the vaulted roof should be sympathetically illuminated with uplighters if possible. This should add to the ambience. 3. I have always thought the flat roof extension is gloomy and unwelcoming even during the hours of daylight. Consideration should be given to better artificial lighting. I also think that a frosted glass window in either the back wall or side wall or both would enhance the ambience of that area. Like everything else you can only spend what the budget allows but I hope the above is of interest."

"I'm only an infrequent visitor to the Reading Room but my preference would be for it to be restored to its former condition."

"Expose it and tell people to wear jumpers! It is such a lovely building and anyway winters are getting warmer."

"I would love the ceiling to be opened up as long as not too much heat was lost. In fact, it would be terrific!"

"My view is that, if possible, we should open up the ceiling. I think it would add to the character of the building (though I am not sure what it would do to the acoustics)."

"I have just read your report on the Helmdon website and I personally think it would look better and more in keeping with the building to expose the original roof. By looking at your photographs I think the original wood looks most attractive and it seems sad to keep it hidden especially when there is no heat advantage to the room."

"As a relative newcomer to the village I would like to respond to your invitation: it does seem a shame to cover up those fantastic beams and if heat is not lost then why should they not be on show; this would only add to the beauty of the building. My only query would be, will it change the acoustics of the hall? Bearing in mind the different activities that the Reading Room is used for?"

"I agree with you – my vote would be to remove the suspended ceiling and redecorate the ceiling above. I don't think the heating issue is a significant one. I also recommend getting in touch with Pam Wilton, the village halls' adviser at ACRE; she might have ideas having seen lots of other village halls."

"Thank you for the invitation to a meeting regarding the refurbishment of the Reading Room. I would like to put forward the following suggestions which were banded about by various Helmdon residents this morning. 1. Redecorate etc. as no doubt you will be planning. 2. Remove the ceiling in the back room and renew throughout with lighting incorporated within the new ceiling if appropriate. 3. Renew the sliding door between the front hall and the back room. 4. Renew the floor covering. 5. Better access – external doors to be self-closing and disabled access/facilities provided. Other ideas include: sound system/wi fi availability; big screen TV that may be locked in situ. You will appreciate that these are just thoughts and ideas, and that we have no idea of the budget you are adhering to. However, I hope that our ideas are of some use to you and that the meeting progresses well tomorrow evening."

The Chairman then asked the meeting for their suggestions.

Mr. Underwood thought there were three important things to discuss: the ceiling, the concertina doors and the lighting. He went on to say that the chapel in Weston was an example of an old building which had been really well transformed. It was obvious that somebody had an idea about what should be done and Mr. Underwood suggested that perhaps somebody with vision should be brought in to give advice about what was possible.

Mrs. Lidgley suggested that we use Pam Wilton's (ACRE) expertise. Mr. Moody, who works with Pam Wilton, said that she would be willing to come to see the Reading Room.

Mrs. Lidgley said that if Pam Wilton could come in the day time, it could be arranged for people to be present so that they could meet her.

Mrs. Saunders wondered if fans to circulate the hot air could be installed but the Chairman thought this was not necessary. He went on to explain that when he had gone up into the roof (i.e. the other side of the suspended ceiling) it was very warm and there seemed to be no heat loss from the hall. Mr. Moody added that the space above the suspended ceiling was not large – about four foot high.

Mrs. Wheeler wondered whether it was possible to add some ventilation to the hall because she thought it was often too warm in the hall. She liked the idea of having some windows which could be opened and fitting thermostats on to the radiators. Mrs. Wheeler (representing ACORNS) also requested baby-changing facilities in the disabled lavatory. She presented the meeting with some quotes for this facility and thought the price would be about £250.

Mrs. Harrold thought that Mrs. Wilton should be asked to visit the Reading Room before the ceiling is taken down.

The Chairman said that one idea was to take only half of the ceiling down so that people could compare between the suspended ceiling and the original.

Mr. Woodhams wondered whether anybody could remember what it looked like before the ceiling was put in.

Mr. Burns said that if it was possible to have somebody come along to give their ideas of how things would look in the future, they should be asked to do so. The Chairman agreed with this.

Mrs. Forgham asked how much money was available to spend on refurbishment. The Chairman told her that it would be best to see what was required before starting to cost it. He told her that the finances in the 60 day account came to £12,353 and in the current cheque account £2,865. The Chairman said that only a certain amount of the 60 day account could be used; some money would have to be left in reserve in case of other expenditure. Mrs. Forgham said that perhaps plans should go ahead only after seeking advice about what we want.

The Chairman suggested taking down the picture of the Queen and the various awards and replacing them on the beam dividing the room. His other ideas were:

Box in all the pipes with a false beam (removable)

Move all the coat hooks and put them in the Committee Room – making this into a cloak room as well as a committee room.

Move all the notice boards into the extension.

Mrs. Vicars asked that a few hooks be left so that people having parties in the hall could use them to help fix their decorations.

Mr. Underwood asked where Pam Wilton worked and Mr. Moody replied that she works for ACRE and that she gives advice on all aspects of village halls.

Mr. Underwood said that it should not be assumed that curtains were needed again.

Mrs. Wheeler spoke about the floor and said that if anything was spilt on the floor one not only had to clean it up immediately but had to wax it to avoid stains and she wondered whether anything could be done to help preserve the floor.

Mr. Coatsworth agreed that Pam Wilton should be asked to come to Helmdon and then it was necessary to get somebody to advise on what sort of design we are looking at. It would be good to produce a computer generated image of what we are looking at. We also need some costings and in that way we could work out our priorities; it might be necessary to pay for a professional.

The Chairman said that it was unlikely that all the plans could be carried out in one go.

Mr. Moody wondered whether it would be possible to advertise for a designer and the Chairman suggested asking Mrs. Irene Inness. Mr. Moody wanted to know who would be supervising all of this and the Chairman said that a contractor could manage the whole project but that he would be happy to do this himself. Mrs. Lidgley said that this would have to have the approval of the Reading Room Committee.

Mr. Moody asked whether there was a particular time scale to complete the work and the Chairman said that there wasn't although the work would mainly have to be done in the summer holidays.

Mrs. Lidgley said that the ceiling should be the first job done and the Chairman suggested that it be taken down within the next few weeks.

Mr. Burns said that once the ceiling was down Pam Wilton should be asked to see the hall fairly rapidly afterwards.

The Chairman asked the meeting formally whether the ceiling should be taken down and the meeting agreed that it should.

Mr. Short made a point about natural light and suggested installing a frosted glass window in the extension.

The Secretary explained that she had started looking into funding and grants and was receiving information packs from several sources. She also said that crack-measuring devices had been installed (by the surveyors Peter North) in several of the larger cracks in the extension and main hall and these could not be taken down for a year. Repainting etc. would have to be carried out with these in place.

The Chairman thanked everybody for attending and closed the meeting at 9.05 p.m.

Reading Room Extraordinary AGM - 10th March 2008

Reading Room Refurb
Your village hall needs you!

The Reading Room is about to receive a 'makeover' and your ideas will be greatly valued because, after all, the hall belongs to everybody in Helmdon.

The Reading Room Committee is holding an Extraordinary AGM in the Reading Room on: WEDNESDAY 2nd APRIL 2008 @ 8.00 P.M.

Everyone is welcome and it would be great to hear your ideas. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful facility but the hall needs a new look and that's where you come in. Please come along on the 2nd April and be a part of the planning process for the refurbishment of the Reading Room.

If, sadly, you can't make that date, please ring either Bill England or Caroline King and let us know how you think the Reading Room could be improved.

Caroline King, Secretary, Reading Room.

Reading Room Refurb - Your Choice - posted 11th February 2008

As some of you will be aware, the Reading Room main hall hopefully, will be refurbished during the course of this year.

The discussions so far have been whether to expose the original ceiling, or to have another suspended one, as is there at the moment. There have been one or two issues on this matter; one of them is heat loss if the ceiling is exposed, another is the condition of the original ceiling.

As the photos [on] show the condition is pretty good and in my opinion will not take much work to bring it back to its original glory. Where the heat loss is concerned, when I opened up the suspended ceiling I found it to be as warm above as it was in the main hall. It is YOU who should have the say on this matter. It is YOUR hall. Please let us know what you want. Reply to: Bill England or Caroline King.

A meeting will be arranged sometime in March so could we have your comments by the end of this February.
Bill England

Reading Room Report - September 2007

The Reading room has just had its "fifteen minutes of fame" - something that has entirely escaped it so far! Yes, the dear old Reading Room was featured in the national news on the day of the "Great Flood" a few weeks ago. All the support services arrived and set up shop in the Reading Room just in case their help was needed - luckily nobody actually had to be housed there overnight, but it is nice to know that the emergency plan (yes - the Reading Room does have one!) really worked.

Hosting all night emergency housing is probably not specified in the licence for our premises BUT shortly our licence will permit us to show films in the Reading Room. At the request of Helmdon Presents we are applying for a variation in our licence. The group had the brainwave of using the hall in a new way but there may be other things that you can think of which would be suitable to hold in the Reading Room. Even if your idea is only in the planning stages, please sound out the committee and they will give it every consideration. It's your hall after all!

Warning! Bookings for hiring the hall are already being taken for 2008 so don't delay. (We had difficulty in finding a date to hold our own Reading Room AGM because of heavy booking). Mr Fairbrother, who so generously donated the hall to the village so many years ago, would be thrilled by the use it gets.
Bill England
Chairman: Reading Room Management Committee

Reading Room Report - March 2007

The Reading Room is still being used to the full, with almost every weekday and evening being used up by one organisation or another, which proves the fact that it is a very popular amenity. Sundays are being booked, especially for birthday parties and christenings.

This year we are looking to refurbish the main hall, finances permitting, and a flyer was sent round the village asking for comments on what you would like. Even though the response was somewhat disappointing, the main comment was to "do something with that awful ceiling." We have received one quote, and the secretary is busy seeking more, which should be forthcoming in the near future. We can then set about seeking some funding for the project. After this will come the rest of the plan ie. reecorate, floor, curtains, electrics, it seems never ending, but when it is all completed, we will have a building that the whole community can be proud of.

I look forward to your continued support.
Bill England
Chairman: Reading Room Management Committee