£50,000 cash boost for Whitehaven’s Solway Hall

Whitehaven’s town centre theatre venue has seen better days with tattered curtains and toilets that haven’t had an overhaul since Duran Duran were topping the charts. But all that is set to change in the next couple of months as the iconic Solway Hall at the Civic is dragged into the 21st-century – thanks to a hard-fought campaign and a £50,000 Community Choice Fund.

The cash boost will be used for a much-needed revamp of the reception and other rooms in the Civic Hall to create a relaxing area with new seating and decoration for the community. Ultimately the team of volunteers involved in the project also wants to raise money to replace the stage and capitalise on the venue’s new lease of life. A host of performers and top acts visiting the venue in the coming months and years will also surely appreciate the fresh new look.

Anne Kelly, chair person of Rosehill Youth Theatre, the charity that runs the venue, said the grant would raise the curtain on a bright new future for the community centre. “I’m overwhelmed to be honest, over the moon,” she said. “I want to thank everyone in the community who voted for us. It’s nice to see that there are people out there who want the Civic Hall to thrive.

“We have had great support. This will allow us to make the hall more pleasant and for it to go back to being a proper community centre. We want to make it more people-friendly. “People are already starting to use it more and we really appreciate this support. This is what keeps us going”

“I also want to thank our hard-working volunteers. this wouldn’t be the place it is if it wan’t for them. “I am also grateful to Sellafield who ran the award scheme. This has given not just us but people across Cumbria the chance to get a bit of money behind them.”

The team also wants to attract even more volunteers as the Solway grows as a performance space and as a venue for weddings and christenings.

Anne added: “We are always on the lookout for help, even if a 17 or 18 year old wants to do some glass-collecting or serve some of the celebrities who come through our doors.”

The Solway Hall was one of 19 winners in the inaugural Community Choices campaign. The worthy causes benefiting people across West Cumbria will enjoy a share of over £580,000-worth of funding. They were named winners after achieving the most support in the people’s vote.

The scheme, launched by Sellafield Ltd was aimed at giving a financial boost to not-for-profit organisations and helping to raise their profile. The Civic Hall, which is now home to several organisations, was closed in 2013 but was re-opened two years ago.

Over the last 18 months a 17-strong team of volunteers have worked very hard to fundraise to keep it open and secure its future at as an arts venue.

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