GEORGE and Amal Clooney are clearly keen to embrace the community now that they are settled in their riverside home in Sonning.
David Woodward, chairman of Eye and Dunsden Parish Council, pushed some general local information through the couple’s letterbox earlier this year as a welcome.
This included a leaflet about the village hall and the trustees’ appeal to raise money for solar roof panels to help reduce the cost of heating and lighting.
The very next day the Clooneys’ personal assistant responded with the promise of a donation.
“And they were okay for us to publicise it,” says David, who was delighted with the couple’s gift of £1,000.
Now the panels are in place after the remaining £8,000 was raised thanks to other donations and money from the hall’s reserves. TechforEnergy installed the 14 panels on the hall roof over the weekend at no cost. They are expected to produce about £400 worth of electricity a year.
The trustees celebrated with a special cake featuring the hall’s logo.
Beth Timms, one of the trustees, says: “The panels will help greatly in lowering the hall’s electricity costs, benefiting users, including the popular Kingfisher Kindergarten, which is based at the hall.
“The TechforEnergy team volunteered to work over the weekend to avoid inconveniencing our regular bookers.”
Meanwhile, Mrs Timms and her fellow trustees George Englefield and Mr Woodward are among those who have been working hard to raise a much larger sum to pay for an ambitious refurbishment programme at the hall.
This will include a new entrance and sun room, a kitchen and toilets, underfloor heating and redecoration. The target is £400,000 but South Oxfordshire District Council has pledged to fund half of this if the trustees can find the other half.
The Phillimore Trust has promised £100,000 and another £55,000 has been earmarked from the hall’s reserves.
Peppard Building Supplies in Dunsden and Grabloader have offered their help with the refurbishment.
The trustees will be raising more money with their annual bonfire night at the hall on Friday, October 28.
Tickets are available in advance at a discount from Binfield Heath Stores and the Shoulder of Mutton pub in Playhatch.
It might be worth going along as you just never know who might be there…
• To make a donation, call 0118 946 1987 or visit mydonate.bt.com/charities/eyedunsdenvillagehall