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 Mile End Road, Colchester CO4 5DY Tel: 07518 437 488



“For some people the project started when we began raising money five years ago, for others when building began nine months ago, but for me, it starts now. This project is not about bricks and mortar, but what happens inside now and in the future.”

That's a quote from Huw Edwards, Chair of the Myland Parish Halls Modernisation Project, at the official opening of the newly-modernised Halls on Saturday 30th January 2010. So we celebrated a start as well as a finish - and so this page is the last Progress Report on the Modernisation Project, and the first of the (no doubt many!) reports of events in the new Myland Parish Halls.

We are pleased to bring you some photographs of the day, courtesy of Jamil Shehadeh, our official photographer for the day.




All was ready by lunchtime on Saturday 30th January, as the light streamed into the Large Hall on a brilliantly sunny day. Preparations for the day had taken many weeks - invitations were sent out even before many arrangements were made, but so many people came to help that it made all the late nights and paperwork really worth it!


In the few moments before the doors opened, there was time to take a closer look at the exhibits around the hall, such as the original Log Book with entries on the first day of the Halls' operation as Myland School, 139 years ago to the day.


The staff of PJB Chartered Architects Ltd stand in the centre, with local historians Mick Brown and Patrick Mills poring over old documents and photographs.


Meanwhile, in the Small Hall, the sunlight drew pretty patterns on the walls and heated floor, as entertainer Barrie James made preparations for his part in our big day.


He may have been engaged as a children's entertainer, just in case the other festivities became boring for our young ones - but at times he was surrounded by more adults than children, even though the events in other parts of the building captured the interest of old and young alike.


Did he enjoy it too, or is he just a generous chap? He stayed far longer, and did far more, than we planned or could have hoped for! It was good to see him - see him again at


We can also see members of Mile End Women's Institute, deep in conversation - no doubt planning their part in the day.


And here are some of the members of Mile End Women's Institute, who readily offered (we didn't even need to ask!) to make and serve all the refreshments on the day.


They're pictured in the Halls kitchen - it wasn't envisaged that eight people work there at once, but the photograph shows that's perfectly possible, especially when those people get on very well!


With over 300 people in the building between 2pm and 4pm, they must have served hundreds of cups of tea & coffee, as well as predictably delectable cakes!


Here's the proof - just one groaning tableful of cakes, which were efficiently replenished as soon as the table emptied. Which was often!


The fridge-freezer was put to good use on Saturday. Did the dishwasher work hard - as hard as did the ladies from the Women's Institute - or was all the washing up done by hand?


There was a special cake baked for the occasion, too, complete with the Halls' own logo on the front. The afternoon was so busy that we didn't manage to cut the cake, so we saved it for the Fish and Chip Supper in the evening. Remember when we closed, and had a Fish & Chip Supper? Well, we thought it would be a good way to close the opening day, too! It was a packed evening of food, laughter and games -

with a piece of Myland Parish Halls fruit cake at the very end.


2pm arrived, and the Halls filled with people very quickly indeed. 235 people signed in on the day; some signed in on behalf of families, and some couldn't get near the reception desk to sign in at all! So we're certain that there were over 300 people present.


We were delighted to welcome a number of distinguished guests, including many who had supported the Project for many years. Of course, there were those who were unable to be with us and sent their apologies and good wishes: among them were our Case Officers from the Big Lottery Fund's Community Building Programme, Sarah Hanson and Scott Hignett.


Very soon, the Large Hall was so packed that we were rubbing shoulders with hundreds of old and new friends, including Colchester's MP Bob Russell, himself a proud Mile End lad and long-serving member of 1st Colchester (St Michael's) Scouts. Bob has supported this project from the beginning, and is as pleased as the rest of us to see the new facilities now in use.


There were so many people around on the day that the Project Board and Parochial Church Council of St. Michael's (the halls' owners) were unable to speak with everyone - so if we missed you, can we say through this page that we truly value your support, and were delighted to see you on the day.


As the clock on the wall in the welcome area reached 2:30pm, Revd Ray Gibbs, Priest-in-Charge in the Parish of Myland, rose to welcome everyone to the event.


The five years of the Project have coincided with Ray's five years with us; yet he would be the first to pay tribute to predecessors who have had the vision for redeveloping the Halls. Those include Revd Geoff Catchpole, Rector until 2007, who attended the opening - and Revd Canon John Blore, who preceded Geoff and also attended.

Our present Churchwardens were also pleased to welcome them - including Andy Ayton, who was Chairman of the Buildings Committee when the first plans were drawn up for the modernisation.


A few moments later, it was time for Huw Edwards, who chaired the Modernisation Project Board from its inception at the start of 2008, to make his speech.


"Today is not a day for speeches", he began, "It is a day for celebrations". And so his speech lasted just two minutes, and ended with the cutting of the tape by Natasha Richardson and Samuel Thomas.


Samuel and Natasha, members of the uniformed organisations which meet in the Halls, entered and won the ballot on our website for the privilege of cutting the tape. There were just so many worthy supporters, benefactors and influential people who deserved to be the one to cut the tape, but getting Samuel and Natasha to do it just seemed the right thing to do. After all, the Hall is for all!


Here we see our two tape-cutters, posed by our local press photographer, and flanked by Denise Buckley and Huw Edwards.

Denise, a member of the Project Board, has been responsible for liaison with User Organisations during the Project, as well as for a wide range of tasks including all the planning for the Grand Opening - even the commissioning of commemorative mugs, which were presented to Natasha and Samuel - and every one of them was sold on the day!


Cutting the tape was the signal for everyone to tour the Halls, including the Board Room - a quieter environment where conversation could be enjoyed.


Enjoyment was certainly being had in the Small Hall, where Barrie James was in full swing, for those children and grown-ups who'd had their fill of tea and cakes; but here was plenty of activity elsewhere in the Halls, notably around Eric Day, our Bookings Manager, who could be seen surrounded by a number of people enquiring about booking the Halls.


If you'd like to chat to him about meetings for a local Organisation or perhaps a children's party, you can reach him on the telephone number at the top of this - and every - page of the website.


Jamil also took many photos of people we were delighted to see - some posed, some in action - let's see a few.



This is Esther Wilde. Esther is the Church's Volunteer Co-ordinator, and is heavily involved in a number of Organisations which meet in the Halls.


Typically, Esther seems to have been moving too fast for a good photograph, but here we see her enjoying the display of the Hall's history.


John Wilde, her husband, is Treasurer of the Parochial Church Council and also a member of the Modernisation Project Board, and kept track of the finances throughout the Project - and continues to do so, as a member of the Halls Management Team. We thank John and Esther for all their hard work, always done with commitment and joy.

Bob Russell MP and Huw Edwards are clearly engrossed

in a moment from Myland's past....


.... and then with Mick Brown, both proudly remembering

their involvement with previous events at the halls.


We were delighted to welcome Cllr Elizabeth Hart, Chairman

of Essex County Council to the event. The Council have

given excellent support, through the Community Initiatives Fund and the Essex County Council Millennium Fund.


Here's a happy group - and no wonder! It's the management

team from Rose Builders Ltd, the Project's main Contractor.

Left to right: Sam Brown, John Woods, Dave Amey,

Stephen Rose and Phil Wade.

On each side of Revd John Chandler, Project Board member, are two honoured guests: Rt Revd Christopher Morgan,

Bishop of Colchester, and Revd Canon Jon Blore, Rector of Myland until 2000.


Here's John again, this time in happy conversation with

Huw Edwards and an even happier Revd Ray Gibbs,

who has every right to enjoy the moment, after carrying

responsibility of the Project.

We were delighted to see these two people at the Grand Opening - Keith Rush, representing PJB Chartered Architects Ltd - and David Young, Head Teacher at Myland Primary School. We wonder what David would have thought of the Halls, had he been Head Teacher on 30th January 1871!


Now a couple of photos taken at the Fish and Chip Supper.

Here is a happy crew, having won the table quiz, and

sporting Big Lottery Fund T-shirts - well, that's one way o

celebrating long after the day is over! But we're sure that

celebrations will continue, each time the Halls are used.

John and Esther Wilde look on, as Revd John Chandler

accepts the task of cutting the celebratory cake -

an act of demolition, at the very end of the construction

of the new Halls!


But here's the photo the Board wanted to see - a happy end

to the Project. The five Board members - John Wilde, John

Chandler,  Denise Buckley, Ray Gibbs and Huw Edwards -

demonstrate hands-on, collaborative management!

Huw Edwards appears to be choosing his words carefully,

but see how enthralled are his hearers! Huw, a hugely experienced Project Manager, must be used to that!


And this lady would win the prize for the happiest face!

Denise Buckley, as well as all the Project Board and so many

Myland residents, saw dreams come true on 30th January.

Now is the time for those dreams to become reality.

Let's use Myland Parish Halls to develop community,

enhance community

and enjoy being the community of Myland.



Return to the Progress Page




Myland Parish Halls are part of St. Michael's Church, Registered Charity no. 1130020

within the Church of England in the Diocese of Chelmsford.

We operate within the rules and policies set down by the Church of England:

all our policies can be viewed on the Church's website at

We are committed to Safeguarding children and young people and vulnerable adults.

The PCC has adopted the Church of England’s policies and best practice on safeguarding

which may be found on the Church of England’s website:

or on the Safeguarding pages of the Chelmsford Diocese:

Our Parish Safeguarding Officer is Mrs Sarah King, 07518 276706