I hope this finds you well and looking forward to Christmas.
This has certainly been a busy year for the Soper Hall, its Directors and Volunteers. Highlights for us have been:
- The award of our wedding license. This great achievement has allowed us to host civil ceremonies at the Soper Hall and to date we have had three lovely wedding celebrations – all very different with more planned for 2017. In order to prepare for this, we have had the front of the Halls landscaped with a grassed area, benches, tubs and hanging baskets which, together with the removal of superfluous signage, has greatly improved the look of the building.
- The establishment of regular Markets. We have combined our Craft and Farmers’ markets into one Makers’ Market which is held every three months and which have proved to be very popular. In addition, the recent Christmas Fair held at the Soper Hall was a stunning success. Father Christmas had his own special grotto in the basement with elves reading stories and the children also loved the snow machine. The creative wares for sale at the stalls were intricate and varied and the WI Tea Room very busy. This brilliant event raised over £2,000 for the Soper Hall Refurbishment Fund.
- The success of our monthly Comedy Nights. The Soper Hall is the place to be on the first Friday of each month for our popular Comedy Nights. These are brilliant events, professionally ran and organised by Trevor Jones from House of Stand Up, regularly sold out so you need to book early! The Soper Hall runs the bar for these evenings and all proceeds go to supporting the hall.
- All but one of our tenants are now on fixed-term leases. This gives us a guaranteed source of income and much financial stability.
- The Soper Hall is THE community centre for Caterham and beyond. We are delighted that regular hirers are still viewing our centre as the best place to hold their weekly/monthly classes. Currently on offer at the Soper Hall are: fencing, guitar, children’s dance, yoga x 2, boogiebounce, Zumba, aerobics, boot camp, slimming world, kumon, mindfulness and meditation classes. We hosted the fantastically popular Caterham Round Table Beer Festival, the Tandridge Art Exhibition, the Caterham Wedding Fair and more. The hall is also used for rehabilitation sessions for those with drug and alcohol issues. For 2017 we are hoping to run tea dances for our older residents and more aerobics sessions. It is clear that our residents and businesses value the Soper Hall and the facilities that we provide.
- The establishment of a financial cushion for the hall. The Soper Hall Board has committed to retaining a £30k financial buffer in the accounts. Funds raised in excess of this are committed to the Refurbishment fund.
- The application for an alcohol/entertainments license. As we go to press, our application for a full license is due to be considered by the TDC Licensing Committee. This will enable us to provide bar facilities for more events which will generate further income.
None of this would have been achieved without the commitment, hard work and dedication of our Board and band of Volunteers. They are a fantastic group of people who I cannot praise highly enough for their team spirit and sense of community and I am so proud to be part of that team.
So for the future: 2017 is also looking exciting for the Soper Hall as it is the year in which the Board has decided to focus on major fundraising to hugely improve our west wing and make repairs to the roof.
We are able to do this due to the CAB move to the library. We are sorry to see them go as they have been part of the Soper Hall for over 60 years but it is a fantastic opportunity for them to move into new custom built offices which are better suited for their growing needs. It is also a great opportunity for us to extend our hall hire offer as the space released, especially on the ground floor, gives us another hall almost as big as the conference hall. This space is crucial as at busy times we are now full and have had to turn potential long term hirers away. We are also hoping to offer office accommodation to young business start ups. In order to do this we need to embark on a major fund raising exercise which is to be the focus on our work for 2017.
Dates for your diary for the New Year are:
Sunday 22nd January – Wedding Fair
Friday 3rd February – First Comedy Night of the year and then first Friday of the month thereafter.
Saturday 25th February – Makers’ Market
Saturday 29th April – Makers’ Market
Saturday 17th June – Summer Fair
Volunteers are needed for all events – selling entry tickets and raffle tickets and clearing away at the end of the day.
May I wish you the very best for a lovely Christmas and a profitable and healthy New Year.
On behalf of our fabulous Board and wonderful volunteers.