From church hall to community hub with ‘Mead 500’

Mead News images 554x415Why resurrect an old church hall when you could build a new centre for local people instead? The Revd Jenny Mills explains how the Newport Pagnell United Reformed Church family has come together to fundraise for a community building. 

It is an exciting time in the life of the church and we have just launched the final phase in our fundraising efforts to create a wonderful community resource in the centre of Newport Pagnell.

The Mead Centre – so named after a generous couple, Gordon and Glennis Mead, who started our fund with a £40,000 donation – will replace our seriously dilapidated church hall, a typical Sunday School hall built in 1928, which will be demolished. Having considered a simple replacement, we discovered that it would not cost much more to turn the building into a multi-use, environmentally-friendly space.

Our new community building will have a sensory room, accessible changing space, a variety of meeting rooms and the same size double-height hall as our existing model plus a catering standard kitchen. But it will also be a welcoming and flexible space in which all that goes on helps to build community. The Mead Centre will be more than just a hall or meeting room, it will be a place where people can meet, make friends, find new interests and engage in activities that enable them to learn new skills; a place where community links can develop

Our current hall is used by a range of groups, and we host a community meal every three months, where people from our area can come together to eat, chat and get to know one another. However, the new building will be able to be used by several different groups at the same time and can offer so much more. It will be an asset for the town of Newport Pagnell, right in the centre of the High Street.

During a special event on 10 June, we were able to reveal that – thanks to a great deal of hard work by the fundraising team and an astonishing, anonymous donation of £100,000 – we now have £441,000 in the Mead Centre fund. This news was greeted with cheers of joyful amazement and cries of: ‘I don’t believe it!’ There was a great sense of excitement and joy at knowing we are moving closer to the stage when building work can begin.

Then we announced the launch of our final fundraising phase – final, we hope, because what with applying for grants and exploiting so many other funding opportunities, we now have almost two thirds of the total needed. With a pen and two clever mathematicians on hand, we challenged the group, Countdown style, to make 500 from random numbers. One lad achieved this in precisely 20 seconds!

Why the figure of 500? Well, we have 11 months to raise the last of the money so that we can start building in May 2018 – a condition of our planning permission. We urged everyone present, everyone involved in any way with the church, local people, Milton Keynes folk, businesses, groups and organisations to have a go at raising £500. People could pledge on the day to do this or take a pack away and raise the money over the next 11 months. We have plenty more ‘Mead Centre 500’ pledge packs to spare so let us know if you are interested! If 500 individuals, businesses or groups raise £500 then we have achieved our funding goal and the centre will be built. It goes without saying than any much smaller gifts will also be welcomed and appreciated. Find out more on our church website or Mead Centre Facebook page.

Revd Jenny Mills, Minister of Newport Pagnell United Reformed Church and West End United Church, Wolverton: revdjmills@btinternet.com

High Street, Newport Pagnell, MK16 8AB