VILLAGERS are celebrating after winning a £470,000 lottery grant to build a new village hall and ensure a sustainable future for their community.

Residents in Husthwaite, near Thirsk, are set to realise a long-standing ambition after the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) agreed to fund most of the cost of replacing its well-used, but rotten and damp, community centre.

The current village hall, which hosts a variety of events including the Elphin Drift entertainment evenings, was made from two First World War military huts, which were brought to the village on a horse and cart from Ripon.

Although it was given a brick surround in the 1960s, the hall became expensive to maintain and heat, and so villagers were disappointed when a bid for lottery funding in 1999 was rejected.

However, in February, after completing a three-stage lottery application, villagers were buoyed by a decision by BLF bosses to back the scheme for a £525,000 hall in principle.

Will Mowatt, chairman of the village hall committee, said 60 residents had been involved in the lottery application and were delighted to receive confirmation of the funding from the BLF and would now focus on raising £55,000 to complete the scheme.

He said: “We were reasonably confident about receiving the funding from the BLF, but in the days running up to it we were a little bit anxious.

“It is quite a big project for a village the size of Husthwaite. We are all pretty excited by the fact that we will have a hall that does what we want it to.”

Lottery bosses were impressed by the scheme’s aim to bring isolated members of the village into the heart of the community, particularly as 40 per cent of Husthwaite’s population is aged over 55.

Mr Mowatt said work to unite the community had already started with the village’s former Evergreen Club for the elderly being succeeded by The Orchard Village Club, which is hoped will appeal to a broader section of the residents.

He said the new hall would be home to a book exchange scheme which has been introduced following the loss of mobile library visits and plans were afoot for a village film club.

Building work on the hall is due to start by March, and it is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh congratulated the villagers on the success following years of hard work.

She said: “Without the BLF awards, many local projects would not proceed, and so local communities would lose out. I am proud to support the Big Lottery awards and the aid that they give to local communities.”