I met with Julie Slack, bookings and events manager and volunteer at Newport Memorial Hall recently. In post since January, Julie is also a ceramicist who runs a group on Wednesdays between 1 til 3.
Do you use the medieval kiln ?
Julie shakes her head. “ We have a new kiln. The medieval Kiln which was discovered when foundations for the memorial hall were being dug in 1918 is an incredible find but it isn’t in working order.”
I recall the grand opening last year ( 2018). It was really well attended.
“It certainly was, but we have a great community here and the hall is always well supported. It’s quite amazing that the people who first discovered the kiln did everything they could to keep it safe. It’s been looked at every now and then over the years but it was only two years ago that lottery funding came up with the money for us to restore it.”
Apart from the kiln, which is a ‘must see’, if you are in the area, Newport Memorial hall boasts a full size stage in the main hall with two other rooms for hire. The Main Hall has room for 300 standing, the newly created Garden Room, (100 standing) , which looks out onto a quiet secluded garden, and the committee room has space for meetings of up to 30. There is also a full sized , fully equipped kitchen, which could be available for a Pop up Café or Restaurant.
The building is accessible at the front via a removable ramp, and there is parking for about 10 cars. A walk way that goes down the side of the building on either side that provides access to the kiln area and the garden and Garden Room. Just inside the front entrance are a disabled toilet and a ladies and gents. They don’t have a hearing loop at present but it is certainly something they are considering installing.
The Hall has an alcohol license and a fully stocked bar. The building is heated by solar energy and any excess is fed back to the system. The committee room requires 50p’s to feed the meter. Julie assures me that the building is warm in winter.
I asked her how the place is run.
“ We have a fantastic committee of volunteers, who meet bi monthly. All together we have about 40 volunteers though we are always looking for new people to join us. There is always a lot to be done. Volunteers are rewarded for their work with free tickets to events and with Time Banking credits.”
In addition, there are 2 paid posts, the cleaner and Julie’s post of 10 hours for booking and events , although, she does many more hours voluntarily and it is clear that she loves the place and the people.
There are a wide range of activities that take place on a regular basis for all ages and the hall is used regularly for sports like badminton, and for a range of exercise classes. In addition there are yoga, regular meditation groups , childrens activities, art groups, and seniors meet ups.
I asked Julie what coming up by way of events.
“ We plan to run an Action for Happiness, which is endorsed by the Dalai Lllama. It will probably run on a Wednesday between 4 and 6 , but I will confirm that soon. Following on from that a Happiness café, meeting once a month will make people in the community welcome.”
‘Back Beat Sound System’ will be here on Saturday 14th September. They are very popular.
On 26th October local Photographer David Wilson will be giving us a talk on his latest book, ‘A year in Pembrokeshire’ ( we have an article here on David and Jamie Owen and their work together)
Looking ahead to February 14th of 2020 a big Valentines Ball is planned.
“There is so much going on here for all ages, Julie tells me, It really is a very busy hall, with both regular groups and one off events. Its best to check out the website or Facebook page regularly for a full programme, hire costs and other news.
If anyone is interested in running regular groups or activities we have a few spare times. We are also happy to hear from anyone wanting to make one off bookings or volunteer with us”.
People should contact Julie Slack at :
Newport Memorial Hall,
West Street, Newport, Pembrokeshire, SA42 0TF