Donna Birrell attracts a crowd at Ludgvan Church coffee morning
It was the renovations of Murley Hall in Ludgvan in 2016 that really kickstarted the church hall to be used as a community space for the residents of the small village in West Cornwall.
From a run-down, cold, inaccessible and unwelcoming hall, Revd Nigel Marns and his team of volunteers have worked hard to turn it into a thriving space, which last week hosted a coffee morning with Donna Birrell from Radio Cornwall. The church accessed grants from SITA, CORY, Diocese of Truro, the Archbishops Council Mission Fund, the Local Community Chest as well as the local community hosting a range of fundraising events. These funds enabled them to install two disabled toilets, improve their wheelchair access, renovate a meeting room and storage area and tarmac the outside area.
Mary Yellop, chairperson of the Social and Fundraising Group explains,
“We started the weekly coffee morning about 18 months ago and regularly have 12 – 16 people attending. We wanted it to be a community event and it has definitely bought people together who do not usually go to church. We have a great working group of volunteers who keep the group going.”
As well as the regular coffee morning, Murley Hall also hosts the local WI, film nights, birthday parties and band practice as well as regular photography, watercolour and patchwork sewing groups.
Revd. Nigel Marns from Mounts Bay Benefice explains how important the hall can be in a rural village like Ludgvan:
“We’ve found that in areas like ours, people often move down as a retired couple and may find it hard to join the community. If one of the couple is then unfortunately bereaved, the partner left behind is likely to feel isolated or lonely. The hall and the coffee mornings are a great way for us to gather people together and help them as a community.”
Radio Presenter Donna Birrell, who currently hosts the BBC Cornwall weekend morning shows initially got involved with the ‘Coffee with Donna’ project after a conversation with Debbie Croucher from Transformation Cornwall.
“I often spoke to listeners who were lonely and could go from week to week without seeing anyone and we were looking for a way to help these people. The coffee mornings are a great opportunity for people to take the first steps to making connections and hopefully this will go some way to helping them tackle their feelings of loneliness.”
Since they started in St Columb Major in January, the coffee mornings have been so popular that they have now become a regular event across the county.
The next ‘Coffee with Donna’ sessions will take place at:
- All Saints Highertown, Truro – 20th April
- Shortlanesend Methodist Church – 18th May
- Callington Churches Together – 15th June
- Ponsanooth Hall – 13th July
- Tregony Bible Christian Chapel – 5th September
- Madron Scouts, Penzance – October (date TBC)
- Paul Church, Newlyn – 8th November
- Threemilestone Methodist Church – December (date TBC)