Embrace The Future v Remain Stuck In The Past

The past is to be respected and acknowledged, but not worshipped; it is our future in which we will find our greatness.”

Pierre Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada 1980-84)

The good readers of this journal might have noticed an article in September’s edition regarding the change in name of Melling Institute to Melling Village Hall. It is wonderful to have some impassioned interest in our village and the writer has presented an excellent opportunity to explain the change.

When the hall was built there was no Freeview, no Sky Sports, no Netflicks, no on demand TV: in fact there was no TV at all. There was no internet, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, 24 hour news, online gaming, or dare I say, Tinder. Village halls were central to the community as a place where local people could meet and socialise.

In 1922 every village hall was bustling with regular activity. Today, they fiercely compete for the few events and groups that still use them, whilst the running costs continue to rise. This is the harsh reality of running a village hall. Our regular and on-off bookings just keep things ticking over. The committee then put a great deal of time and effort into occasional events to raise some money for small improvements. But there is damp in the front of the building, standing water under the rear and one day the roof will require re-slating.

So to the need for a new name and a new sign; and yes, even, god preserve us, an advertising sign outside! If the hall is to survive it needs to be visible, accessible and relevant to the modern world. The definition of an institute is “an organisation having a particular purpose, especially one that is involved with science, education, or a specific profession”. So at best it means something exclusive and at worst can have more sinister connotations. An ‘institute’ is not where one might consider holding a family birthday party or a yoga class. I have the greatest respect for tradition but the proud history of our country is one of continual evolution, not stagnation.

The writer asks why the hall cannot be both Institute and Hall? Yet it is, as the words “Melling Institute” remain clearly carved above what used to be the main entrance. Hence, there remains preserved a respectful nod to the past, along with a bright new sign to the future.

Too many villages have become mere dormitories, where young neighbours rarely speak, older residents are isolated and the village institute is but a faded memory in a dusty photo album. It is my hope that in 2022 Melling Village Hall will not just be remembering years gone by but will be celebrating the start of a second century of success, with renewed energy and a sense of place and purpose in our community. Somewhere open, friendly, inclusive and modern, where young and old can meet. All this will only be possible if local people generously give their time. We currently need help with organising events and selling tickets – all volunteers welcome!

The writer does make an interesting suggestion, in proposing that the name of The Melling Chronicle might be changed. “Chronicle” does sound rather medieval and strictly means “a written record of historical events”. By submitting their article the writer acknowledges that this publication is indeed not a chronicle. I agree that ”Advertiser” is not appropriate but perhaps “Melling News”? We have a new name for our hall and a fresh new website, so why not a new look for our newsletter? What do readers think?

Adrian North

Chairman – Melling Village Hall Committee

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