Great Fire tore village asunder

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Since a torrent of fire ripped through the village of Norton in 1788, regeneration and community spirit have been watchwords.

That outlook shows no signs of abating, as the parish council plans to reinvigorate the long-standing village hall with nearly £100,000 of improvements.

Norton''Village Hall

Norton''Village Hall

Work on the 40-year-old building will see underfloor heating, new toilets and a new stainless steel kitchen being fitted, with revamped insulation and a resurfaced car park already in place.

Once finished, it is hoped the venue could be used to host parties, meetings, clubs and more.

Abigail Peck, chairman of the Village Hall Management Committee, said the work will give somewhere for local groups to meet.

“At the moment it is just too cold for groups to use. Our toddler group and the WI can’t use it so that’s both ends of the age spectrum and we want to open it up to more people.

Norton''Village sign

Norton''Village sign

“I think it’s something that could be available for people in another 40 years time,” she said.

Finding funding is an ongoing battle for the committee.

The parish council, Mid Suffolk District Council and Garfield Weston have already generated £50,000, but other avenues are being explored.

Applications to the Big Lottery Fund and other sources are being entered, while community efforts such as Saturday’s quiz night are all adding to the pot.

Events such as Saturday’s are an example of a community spirit that the parish council are eager to support.

Brian Aket, chairman, said its members want to foster their ‘tight-knit’ community.

“What we are trying to achieve is to make the village an even more cohesive place.

“The Diamond Jubilee celebrations were ideal for that and I think people have seen the potential of greater community involvement as a result,” he said.

That ambition will be helped by community initiatives such as a recently launched newsletter and revamped website.

The local pub, The Norton Dog, played its part throughout the summer with a host of events, while Norton Primary School and Norton Preschool are doing their best to stay engaged with the community.