ASTRA Community Projects is all about building and consolidating local community activity and spirit.
Its focus right now is to replace the ailing Church Hall with a well designed modern structure to serve the growing village community for another hundred years or more.
It is an urgent requirement because the existing building is in significant decay and fails to meet fundamental health and safety standards.
To save the old `Church Hall’ before it is too late
As a result of its past success ASTRA’s ambitions have grown over the years driven by community need, deteriorating village structures, and an onslaught of threats to the very identity of the village. You won’t be surprised therefore to hear that ASTRA’s journey at times has been a long and tough haul to repair so much with so little. But our small rural community responded not once only, but time and time again in the face of challenge and disappointment.
Saving the fragile Hall, founded in Victorian times, was always going to be difficult. However when the professionals deemed the structure unsafe and unrepairable, the scale of work, indeed the size of required budget brought sobering thoughts to the fore. This was to be a serious test of perseverance and determination. Once you start rebuilding you have to finish it and this time, just as in the church tower project, ASTRA responded to avoid the danger of structural collapse. It was a timely intervention, adding urgency to the whole undertaking.
However, we didn’t fully anticipate the benefits generated by the many obstacles and setbacks. The amazing events organised by ASTRA raised spirits, improved community cohesion, built new and strengthened existing relationships, made people feel needed in the community, and created a lot of fun and smiles.
Of course, the journey doesn’t end when ASTRA hands over the keys of a beautiful new Hall to the community. Indeed, the opening of a new hall will simply be the continuation of a century-long journey for the community of Bow Brickhill.
For all of us involved in saving this much loved building it’s a poignant reminder this project is not really about a building, it’s about building our community.
Chair of ASTRA Community